In a cavern buried beneath a mile of rock at the
Sanford Underground Research Facility, a School of Mines team has spent the
last year assembling an accelerator that could alter the scientific world with
quiet bursts of energy.
The Compact Accelerator System Performing
Astrophysical Research (CASPAR) experiment hopes to understand the origins of
the universe by mimicking nuclear fusion in stars, studying the smallest scale
possible to understand the largest scale possible.
Led by South Dakota Mines’ Dr. Frank Strieder of the
Department of Physics, the team of scientists includes researchers from the
University of Notre Dame and the Colorado School of Mines, as well as seven
Mines students—three doctoral students and four undergraduates. Strieder
designed the 45-foot-long accelerator and spent a year purchasing or machining
parts and then assembling them.
Data collection is expected to begin within the next
The idea behind the experiment is to generate the type
of energy inside a star, allowing scientists to understand how stars were
formed and where they are in their lifespan, which could lead to other
discoveries about life in the universe.
One kilometer away inside another cavity of the
sprawling deep underground laboratory, Ray Davis observed for the first time 50
years ago that neutrinos came from the sun. Davis earned the Nobel Prize for
“We know bas...