MSU will be site of rare isotope beam research - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

MSU will be site of rare isotope beam research

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(03/17/14) - Scientists from around the world are expected to come to Michigan in a few years to research new theories, thanks to the construction of a state-of-the-art laboratory. They'll be exploring the world of sub-atomic particles.

A groundbreaking ceremony marked the official beginning of the project. FRIB - or the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams- will delve into a field of study of which most people only have a vague notion.

"We will take any element from hydrogen to uranium, remove the electrons and put them so they're positively charged ions. We'll put a negative charge in front of them and they're going to be sped up to half the speed of light," said Dr. Thomas Glasmacher, FRIB project director.

When that happens, rare isotopes will be created.

"FRIB will be the best of its kind to make the isotopes that scientists will use to do their discoveries," said Prof. Brad Sherill, FRIB chief scientist.

It's believed that understanding the nature of rare isotopes could lead to many scientific advancements.

"How can we better diagnose and treat diseases? How can we make the world a safer place?" Sherill asked.

"We're going to make discoveries. We'll enable scientists to make discoveries with these rare isotopes in nuclear physics and astrophysics, in applications beneficial to society, medicine, biology, material science," Glasmacher said.

It will be eight years before FRIB is operational, but when it is, it will attract scientists from all over the world.

"In fact, we've already got more than 1,300 scientists signed up who want to use the facility, even though it won't be ready until 2022," Sherill said.

"It's an extraordinary advantage for the state of Michigan and Michigan State University to be a leader in this work over a very long period of time," said Lou Anna K. Simon, MSU president.

MSU was picked in part because it already has some of the facilities needed because of its cyclotron.

"Well, we had to compete against other national laboratories and other facilities for this and it came because we had a great team," Simon said.

The project is expected to cost more than $700 million, most of which is being paid for by the U.S. Department of Energy. The construction is expected to create 5,000 construction jobs and 400 permanent positions.

"This is very gratifying. To take a dream of a number of scientists and to help make that a reality, it's great," Sherill said.

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