The Move From Hell: 15-Ton Magnet, 3.2K Miles, 5 Weeks
Massive electromagnet will head from NY to Fermilab
By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff
Posted Jun 16, 2013 12:55 PM CDT
A June 11, 2013, photo shows a red stabilizing apparatus carrying a 50-foot-wide electromagnet storage ring, at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY.   (AP Photo/Brookhaven National Laboratory)

(Newser) – Say you have a 15 ton, 50-foot-wide electromagnet kicking around. And say a lab halfway across the country needs it. Scientists at Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island are facing down the logistics of that very move, reports the AP, a 3,200-mile trek to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. "When we first started thinking about this, we all thought it wouldn't be possible," says a physicist. "But if you have a big problem, you find good people who can fix the problem. That's physics."

The move is expected to cost $3 million and take five weeks. The magnet itself, which was the world's largest when it was built in the 1990s, is a logistical nightmare: It can't be dismantled or bent more than an 1/8th of an inch without being ruined. The magnet will be trucked about 8 miles to the Atlantic, where it will be loaded on a barge and head down the East Coast and up the Mississippi, Illinois, and Des Plaines rivers. Two more days on a truck will get it to Fermilab, where it's going to be used to study subatomic particles called muons, which live 2.2 millionths of a second. You can follow the move, which begins next Saturday, here.

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Showing 3 of 27 comments
RAD45
Jun 17, 2013 4:51 PM CDT
Mmm, just a thought.. why not ship it up the Atlantic Coast, down the St Lawrence River into the Great Lakes, though Lake Michigan and drop it off at the dock in Chicago? Sounds like someone wants to visit Hilton Head Island, Palm Beach, Miami, Key West, New Orleans and other towns on the Mississippi for some vacationing enroute?! Need I remind anyone the timing of this ocean/river trip coincides Hurricane Season!?
KennyLLC
Jun 17, 2013 12:41 PM CDT
What they need is a giant reversed polarity magnet on a trailer rolled beneath it with cushioned side supports to keep it from sliding over the edge. With just the right amount of inverted electromagnetism they could levitate the thing a few inches above the lower magnet on the trailer. And Voila ! No damage possible. But by the time it gets to it's destination it'll probably be rurnt by excessive electron inversion.
Libris_Fidelis
Jun 17, 2013 11:01 AM CDT
They should have thought about how they were going to move it BEFORE they made the damn thing in the first place! This is JUST like the guy who built his dream sail boat over more than ten years in his garage and then had to tear down the garage to get it out !!!!