The last time I was here in Richland, WA, I took the trusty time machine back 70 or so years and visited the B Reactor on the Hanford site. I sat at the (non-functional) controls of the country’s first nuclear reactor; I stared into Fermi’s office; I looked up at the rods and rods and rods and rods that were used to make plutonium. Good times, good times.
Last Friday, I took the time machine ahead, only a couple of years,to be sure, but that was far enough. We ventured into a different part of the dessert to tour LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory). The site isn’t much to look at. It’s composed of a couple of buildings (nice landscaping, though) and two long, l o n g concrete tunnels.
[Insulating concrete tunnels housing the beam tubes.]
And what, you ask, will that show? Oh, my friends, it will show a star going nova, a black hole imploding, or even, maybe, the Big Bang.
[The control room at LIGO where discoveries will be noted on these monitors:
or is it the control room of the Enterprise? Warp speed ahead, Mr. Sulu!]
And speaking of finding the Big Bang, this, right here in the tufts of scrub, in the shadow of the nuclear waste vitrification plant, this would be a great setting for an episode of the Big Bang Theory. Can you see it? Wallowitz and Kuthrapali lost with the lizards. Leonard wandering through the B Reactor and Sheldon lost in the rat refuse of those long, concrete tunnels.
Ain’t science grand?!