Our View: Fired up about science

Published: Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

When people are looking for a party on a Friday night, it’s rare that they decide to head to the local science laboratory.

But for at least one night in the Tri-Cities, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory’s Wilson Hall was the happening place to be.

On July 26, thousands gathered to mark the arrival of a much ballyhooed electromagnet, marking the end of the magnet’s well-documented, 3,200-mile journey from Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.

Among the large turnout was a substantial number of families with small children, and what better way to encourage a young mind’s natural curiosity about the world than turning science into a party.

The magnet is the lynchpin of a new Fermilab experiment dealing with the properties of subatomic particles called “muons.” Fermilab went above and beyond in promoting the magnet’s movements, with science experiments set up for kids at the event, a website that provided a day-by-day account of the magnetic ring’s journey and scientists available for questions at each public sighting.

Fermilab is one of the cultural and intellectual gems of the Tri-Cities area, but often what transpires on its campus escapes the public’s attention. Kudos to Fermilab for seizing the opportunity to engage the community with the magnet event. We hope to see more of the laboratory’s projects showcased to the public.

Our society’s cultural tastes in the 21st century are often derided, but as the crowd July 26 proved, there remains an appetite for good, old-fashioned scientific curiosity.

Even on a Friday night.