Friday, June 21, 2024

Virginia is for Science Lovers LOVEwork on Display for Open House

Virginia is for Science Lovers (Jillian Appel/WYDaily)

NEWPORT NEWS — The U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility’s new LOVEwork installation celebrates Virginia’s iconic “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan, with a twist — “Virginia is for Science Lovers.”

The new sign is on display in time for the lab’s first open house in six years, scheduled for Saturday.

According to the facility, The LOVE letters are 6-8 feet high and stretch over 25 feet wide. The LOVEwork is made entirely from repurposed aluminum flat pipes called vacuum chambers once used in particle accelerator magnets at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.

Jefferson Lab explained that the vacuum chambers arrived at the lab attached to magnets that Argonne no longer needs for the accelerator that powers its Advanced Photon Source. The magnets were sent to both Jefferson Lab and the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory for reuse in the new Electron-Ion Collider, a $1.7 billion nuclear physics facility being constructed at Brookhaven. As part of the refurbishment, the vacuum chamber pipes are being removed from the magnets.

Instead of discarding the chambers, Jefferson Lab scientists, engineers, welders and technicians crafted them into a STEM education and outreach activity, the LOVEwork letters. The lab says this kept more than 1,200 pounds of metal from being discarded.

“We constantly seek opportunities to improve our waste diversion efforts. Reusing materials is an essential part of our program. The aluminum used in this LOVEwork is an incredible example of repurposing materials,” said Aubrie Davie, Jefferson Lab Sustainability Program lead. “Jefferson Lab is committed to innovation and creativity while simultaneously nurturing a sense of responsibility and care for the environment; the LOVEwork sign puts that commitment on display.”

Jefferson Lab says that the sign is designed to withstand 115 mph winds, ensuring they will remain in place through severe weather.

“Art has the power to captivate and engage audiences in ways that traditional scientific communication cannot,” said Lisa Surles-Law, Jefferson Lab Science Education manager. “The LOVEwork at Jefferson Lab offers a unique opportunity to merge art and science. Interactive elements such as a computer activity and QR codes allow viewers to learn about the origin of each component and its role in accelerator design, thus enhancing scientific literacy and curiosity.”

The sustainable art will be available for viewing for the first time by the public at the Jefferson Lab 2024 Open House, June 8, and will remain a permanent fixture at the lab for all to enjoy. It continues Virginia’s LOVEwork series, which was originated in 2013 by the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VATC) to promote travel around the state.

The Open House

Saturday’s open house will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and, according to the lab, will provide the public with an ideal opportunity to explore the world-class research facility and will feature entry into research areas; demonstrations; and numerous exhibits and hands-on activities. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about superconducting materials, supercomputers, particle accelerators, particle detectors, nuclear physics research and much more.

“It’s been six years since we’ve been able to host an open house because of the pandemic,” said Lauren Hansen, chief communications officer. “People are extremely excited to come back in and allow people to see what they do. They’re really excited to be able to teach people and show them what they do every day, there’s a pride of ownership here so the excitement around the campus is pretty palpable.”

“We’re very excited about the open house because it gives us the opportunity to share what we do here with students in our area,” said Surles-Law. “Yes we do get students here throughout the course of the year to engage with our staff, but it’s quite a different opportunity for them to actually see and lay hands on some of the things that we do here in Jefferson Lab.”

This is the fifteenth open house in the 40 years of the lab’s existence. During the open house, the lab will be opening up three of the four experimental halls, as well as its accelerator tunnel. And, for the first time ever, it will be opening up one of the arcs — the bending part of the accelerator, as well as the linear part.

Admission is free and so is parking. Event parking will open at 8:30 a.m. on June 8, and it is located at Canon Virginia, 12000 Canon Blvd. in Newport News. Newport News Police will direct traffic on Canon Boulevard, and signs will direct visitors to event parking.

All visitors must plan to park at the Canon parking lot and ride the special event bus to Jefferson Lab. Buses will shuttle visitors continuously from the Canon parking lot to Jefferson Lab (about a minute bus ride) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The last bus will depart the Canon parking lot for the open house at 2 p.m., after 2 p.m., buses will only return visitors to the Canon parking lot. Limited public parking for those visitors who have a disabled parking placard or license plate may be accessed at 12000 Jefferson Ave. on the day of the event. The placard or plate must be fully visible to access this limited on-site parking.

Jefferson Lab said visitors are welcome to take photos and video at the event.

Visit the official website for more information about some of the various activities available during the open house.

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