Congressman Michael Capuano (D-MA-8th) will visit MIT's Laboratory for Nuclear Science, the largest on-campus lab of its kind in the nation and the research home of three Nobel Prize winners, at 2 p.m. today in Room 26-505 of the Karl Taylor Compton Laboratory.
Capuano is expected to preview the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) experiment led by Nobel-winner Samuel C.C. Ting and his collaborators Ulrich Becker and Peter Fisher. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is a sophisticated cosmic ray detector that flew in the STS-91 shuttle payload for 10 days in June 1998 and gathered about 100 hours of data.
The AMS recorded the tracks of millions of cosmic ray particles, the debris released by explosions in distant starts. AMS is the first large magnet experiment ever placed in the Earth's orbit. AMS's instrumentation allowed researchers to measure higher energy particles with greater accuracy than previously possible.
NASA will install AMS on the International Space Station in 2003 to gather data for about three years, which will allow scientists to conduct a much more extensive search for rare cosmic ray particles. The AMS project is an international scientific collaboration that includes 37 research institutions worldwide.
The Laboratory for Nuclear Science is a U.S. Department of Energy supported facility. The Laboratory's director Robert Redwine said, "We are honored that Congressman Capuano is visiting the Laboratory. We have many forefront experiments and are delighted with the Congressman's interest."
The laboratory (website: http://pierre.mit.edu/) was established in 1946 to provide support for basic research by faculty and research staff members in the fields of nuclear and particle physics. These activities include the Bates Linear Accelerator Center in Middleton, MA and the Center for Theoretical Physics.
The Laboratory has supported the research work of three Nobel laureates -- Samuel Ting, Jerome I. Friedman, and Henry Kendall (deceased). Professor Ting, the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of Physics, shared the 1976 Prize in Physics with MIT alumnus Burton Richter for discovering what came to be called the J particle, a heavy elementary particle of subatomic matter. Jerome I. Friedman, Institute Professor and Professor of Physics, shared the 1990 prize for physics with the late MIT Professor Henry Kendall and Dr. Richard E. Taylor of Stanford Linear Accelerator for confirming the existence of quarks, an inner structure of protons and neutrons, in the atomic nucleus.