Fermilab History and Archives Project

A Brief History of Fermilab...

Written by: Adrienne Kolb, Fermilab Archivist, March 1999

I. Prehistory

The ReportIn 1965, the United States Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (JCAE) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) approved a frontier high energy physics project to develop a 200 giga electron volt (GeV) Accelerator. Although there were other regional and university accelerator laboratories working in high energy physics at this time the JCAE and NAS agreed to start a new laboratory that would address a broader range of investigation by a larger constituency of physicists from across the country and around the world. To manage this national project a new organization, the Universities Research Association, Inc. (URA) was formed that year.

II. The Wilson Era

Norman Ramsey Glenn Seaborg, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Otto Kerner, Governor of Illinois, Arthur Theriault, President of the Village of Weston and Senator Paul Douglas, visiting the Weston site. Welcome to Weston, 1966 The plaque acknowledging the contributions of the Village of Weston. It was installed in November, 1968. Pictured are representatives at the ceremony including, from the right, NAL physicist Francis Cole and Arthur Theriault, President of the Village of Weston. The plaque acknowledging the contributions of the Village of Weston, November 1968. It is located at the corner of Neuqua and Shabbona streets in the Fermilab Village.

By late 1966 Weston, Illinois had been selected as the site for the new National Accelerator Laboratory. Robert R. Wilson from Cornell University was appointed by URA in 1967 as the first Director of the National Accelerator Laboratory (NAL).

Robert R. Wilson, Director of the National Accelerator Laboratory Robert R. Wilson, Director of NAL, and Edwin L. Goldwasser, Deputy Director of NAL, 1967 First offices of the National Accelerator Laboratory in the Oak Brook Executive Office Plaza, 1301 W. 22nd St. Oak Brook, IL 60521. Norman F. Ramsey, President of URA, speaking at the Groundbreaking ceremony for the NAL Linac, held on December 1, 1968

The first offices were established in an Oak Brook office building while the site was prepared for the incoming physicists and engineers. Edwin Goldwasser from the University of Illinois became Wilson's Deputy Director. Harvard Professor Norman Ramsey, President of URA, provided strong support during the organization and design of the Laboratory.

Flag-Raising ceremony at the NAL Village, near Batavia, Illinois, held Sept. 24, 1968. Flag is being raised in front of Director's Office by Paul McDaniel, Dir., Research Division, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Washington, D.C. Among others in this photo are: Francis T. Cole & Donald Getz, Asst. Dir. of NAL; Edwin L. Goldwasser, Deputy Director of NAL; Robert R. Wilson, Director of NAL; and M. Stanley Livingston, Associate Director of National Accelerator Laboratory. Robert R. Wilson, Director of NAL & Kennedy Brooks, Area Manager for AEC, standing in front of Directors' Office on September 24, 1968, the day of the Flag Raising ceremony. Robert R. Wilson speaking to members of the NAL staff from the steps of the Curia, the administrative offices in the Village, June 4, 1970. Sign indicating the offices within the NAL Village, 1968

The Village of Weston houses were converted to offices once the Laboratory moved west to develop the accelerator and the site. Native American names were given to the streets in the new village, preserving this legacy in our history.

The Batavia High School band performed at the NAL Groundbreaking ceremony, held on December 1, 1968. Robert R. Wilson, Director NAL, welcoming guests at the Linac Groundbreaking ceremonies. December 1, 1968. Robert R. Wilson and Glenn Seaborg at the NAL Groundbreaking, December 1, 1968 Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission; Lewis V. Morgan, Jr., Chairman, Illinois Atomic Energy Commission; (below) U.S. Representative from Illinois Melvin Price; (above) State Representative Jack Hill; Harvey Pearson, Member of Illinois Atomic Energy Commission; (above-unknown); (below) State Senator Robert W. Mitchler, Secretary Illinois AEC; James N. Ramey, Commissioner, AEC; John F. Fyan, member of the Illinois AEC; and Norman F. Ramsey, president of the Universities Research Association at the Linac groundbreaking ceremony. 12/01/68

Engineering Services house open to guests after the Linac groundbreaking. December 1, 1968. Public Information house and press bus ready for the NAL Linac groundbreaking ceremony. December 1, 1968. Edwin L. Goldwasser, Deputy Director, NAL User's meeting in the Curia, December 2, 1968.

Groundbreaking for the first stage of acceleration, the Linear Accelerator, was held on December 1, 1968.

Robert R. Wilson's hand raised high during the Groundbreaking for the Main Ring Accelerator in October, 1969. Robert R. Wilson, Director of NAL, at the Groundbreaking for the Main Ring, October, 1969. Digging the trench for the Main Ring tunnel Installing a magnet in the Main Ring tunnel Aerial view of the NAL Accelerators, 1971

The Main Ring accelerator was constructed from 1969 until 1971.

It was 5:28 p.m. Friday afternoon, April 16, 1971, when the final magnet was put in place to complete the four-mile Main Accelerator Ring at the NAL. Here, Robert R. Wilson, Director, is congratulated by AEC Chairman Glenn T. Seaborg. Milestone of 200 GeV reached on March 1, 1972. Wilson toasts the NAL staff on their success, March 1, 1972.

The design energy of 200 GeV was reached in March 1972 and this success was celebrated by the entire NAL staff in the basement of Wilson Hall, then under construction. They had done the job faster and for less money than anyone had thought possible.

The Schimelpfenig farm is in the center with the Big Woods on the top left, November, 1968.The best of the farm homes on the 6,800 acre Fermilab site were moved to a new location adjacent to the Fermilab village, the former village of Weston, Illinois. The farm homes were remodeled into apartments for visiting scientists who come to work at Fermilab. In the photograph the farm homes are seen adjacent to Sauk Circle.As the research areas developed, it was vital to presrve the aesthetics and natural beauty of the site. The Big Woods were carefully protected and an annual Arbor Day celebration was initiated to cultivate the green spaces of the Laboratory. Many of the original farmhouses dotting the landscape of the 6800 acre site were preserved and gathered adjacent to the Weston houses to provide housing for visiting scientists. A herd of North American Bison also came to reside at NAL in 1969. Restoration of the native prairie began in 1971.

On Arbor Day 1978, Chinese visitors helped Fermilab employees, including Director Robert R. Wilson and Deputy Director Edwin L. Goldwasser, plant trees. The Krafft/Kuhn homestead on Batavia Road in 1968. It now serves as the Housing Office for Fermilab. The buffalo herd came to Fermilab from Colorado and Wyoming in September, 1969. Professor Robert Betz talking to Director Robert Wilson and Mrs. Jane Wilson and volunteers for the Prairie Restoration Project

During the early 1970's the three beamlines delivering protons from the accelerator to the Fixed Target Experimental Areas of the Laboratory -- the Meson Area, Neutrino Area and Proton Area -- were constructed while the research experiments for those areas were proposed to the administration. "Users" came to the NAL from many nations to explore the frontiers of physics at the highest energy accelerator in the world. Pushing even further into the frontier, the Main Ring attained 400 GeV in December, 1972 and then ran briefly at 500 GeV in May, 1976.

An early plan for the experimental physics facilities at Fermilab. An aerial view of Fermilab, 1977. The largest circle is the main accelerator. Three experimental lines extend at a tangent from the accelerator. The 16-story twin-towered central Laboratory is seen at the base of the experimental lines.

Experimenters in the Proton Area , including Wonyong Lee, John Peoples, Leon Lederman, Lincoln Read, Brad Cox, and Jim Sanford. Some of the Soviet collaborators in the first experiment at NAL, E36, including V.A. Nikitin with Ernest Malamud of NAL. Edwin Goldwasser, Frank Cole and Robert Wilson at the controls of the Main Ring.

One of the aspects of the research program that Wilson hoped to nurture was the medical application of beam therapy in the treatment of cancer. Neutron beams from the Linac have been used for this purpose since 1976.

The invited speakers for the Dedication of the Laboratory ceremony, May 11, 1974. Guests attending the Dedication of the Laboratory ceremony, May 11, 1974. Norman F. Ramsey, Robert R. Wilson, Senator Charles Percy and Edwin L. Goldwasser at the Dedication ceremony, May 11, 1974. Senator Charles Percy and Robert R. Wilson after the Dedication ceremony, May 11, 1974. K.C. and Jean Brooks with an AEC official at the Dedication ceremony, May 11, 1974.

Our identity has been "Fermilab" since May 1974, when the Laboratory was dedicated and renamed Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in honor of the internationally renowned Italian physicist Enrico Fermi. He had achieved the first self-sustained nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago in 1942. Mrs. Laura Fermi, widow of Enrico, participated in the Dedication Ceremony held on the steps of the newly constructed "High Rise" - now called Robert Rathbun Wilson Hall.

The High Rise The High Rise The High Rise The High Rise

The award-winning design of Wilson Hall, often compared with the cathedrals of France, was a collaborative effort with Wilson himself the leader of the architecture team.

The search for new particles using the accelerator at Fermilab produced a major discovery in the summer of 1977 when the first evidence for the bottom quark was observed. The experiment was conducted in the Proton Area by a collaborative team of 17 physicists from three institutions, led by Leon Lederman from Columbia University.

President Lyndon B. Johnson presents the National Medal of Science to Prof. Leon M. Lederman of Columbia University, February 10, 1966. ICFA members meeting in 1976 including Leon Lederman (third from left) and Robert Wilson (fourth from left). Data for the discovery of the bottom quark Upsilon muon spectrometers in P-Center experimental pit John Yoh (seated), L. Lederman

The need to reap the most significant physics results during the difficult economic times of the 1970's provided the foundation for Fermilab's next frontier, the Energy Doubler/Saver. Wilson had first proposed the idea of an Energy Doubler to the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy in 1971. Making use of the innovative and cost-saving technology of superconductivity, a ring of superconducting magnets added to the Main Ring was frequently proposed to double the energy of the complex of Fermilab's accelerators. Approval finally came in 1979.

Meanwhile, physicists and engineers were working to create and invent the necessary provisions for future expeditions into the unknown of high energy physics because neither the technology or materials existed anywhere at that time. The superconducting cable used in the Doubler magnets, as well as the process providing successful maintenance of superconducting temperatures allowing delivery of doubled energy through these magnets, were all invented at Fermilab. The superconducting magnets were installed below the Main Ring by March, 1983.

Before electronic data analysis, human scanners visually examined photographs of Bubble Chamber particle interactions. The single strand composite wire shows the 2200 individual filaments as well as two versions of the cable. Note the details of the electrical insulation around the cable. The coils of Fermilab's superconducting mangets are made of a noibium-titanium alloy that is superconducting when kept at approximately -450 degrees F. (4.6 degrees Kelvin). Superconductivity is the phenomenon, exhibited by certain metals and alloys, of continuously conducting electrical current withou resistance when cooled to temperatures near absolute zero. To achive these cryogenic temperatures the niobium-titanium coils in the Tevatron magnets are surrounded by a cryostat designed to provide space for a continuous flow of liquid helium around the coils. The use of superconducting technology enables the Tevatron to provide a magnetic field of 45 kilogauss and to increase the energy to one trillion electron volts. Installation of the final magnet into the Energy Doubler, March 1983. In the background are Leon Lederman, Dick Lundy, and Andy Mravca. Installation of Last Superconducting Magnet. Helen Edwards. March 18, 1983 Inside view of the Tevatron

III. Transition

Robert Wilson resigned in February of 1978. Philip V. Livdahl served as Acting Director until the fall when Leon Lederman was appointed Director Designate by URA. In June 1979 Lederman became Fermilab's second Director.

Visitor with Acting Director Philip V. Livdahl, Director Designate Leon M. Lederman and Former Director Robert R. Wilson. Adlai E. Stevenson III, Philip V. Livdahl and Leon M. Lederman, December 1978 Acting Director Philip V. Livdahl with newly-announced Director Designate Leon M. Lederman, October 1978. (Standing) Dr. Leon M. Lederman, Fermilab Director, and (kneeling) Philip V. Livdahl, Deputy Director, shown in the tunnel of the main accelerator at Fermilab. At lower left (PCA 130) are superconducting mangnets for the Energy Doubler constructed at Fermilab. Above the superconducting magnets are the magnets for the original 400 BeV accelerator. Director Leon M. Lederman with Acting Deputy Director Philip V. Livdahl, September 1981.

IV. The Lederman Era (1978-1989)

Leon M. Lederman, Director of Fermilab, 1978-89Lederman weighed the possibilities of the Laboratory's future in light of the research capabilities at other laboratories. He reaffirmed the central direction that the Laboratory had undertaken to complete the first superconducting accelerator and to transform that accelerator into a proton-antiproton collider. He decided to continue the pursuit of the high-energy frontier with the Energy Doubler/Saver knowing that, once completed, many opportunities for new explorations would become possible.

Leon M. Lederman, Director of Fermilab, 1978-89 Leon M. Lederman, Director of Fermilab, 1978-89

Indeed, a new scheme for colliding beams of protons and antiprotons had become an option in addition to the higher energy fixed target experiments for the Fermilab research program. Construction of an Antiproton Source was essential to produce the proton's opposite particle. These antiprotons could then be steered into collision with protons and observed in specially designed detectors. The energy of these collisions would be close to 2 TeV in the center of mass. This technically risky project, employing stochastic cooling techniques, was approved in 1982 and was led by John Peoples.

Construction begins for the Antiproton Source, 1983 John Peoples, Jr. in front of the Antiproton Source The Energy Saver reached its primary design goal: accelerating protons to 500 GeV in a ring of superconducting magnets. In fact, the energy was 512 GeV -- a new world record for accelerators. The record was set at 3:37 p.m., Sunday, July 3, only 13 hours after the first serious attempt to accelerate beam above the injection energy of 150 GeV. 512GeV computer screen

The superconducting Tevatron was the biggest innovation in international accelerator technology and by July 1983 the particle beam reached 512 GeV. That summer 10,000 neighbors attended an Open House at Fermilab to celebrate the milestone and learn more about our frontiers in science.

Mike Turner and Rocky Kolb, the organizers of the Inner Space/Outer Space Conference in May, 1984. At right is David Schramm.Leon M. Lederman, Fermilab Director, with University of Chicago physicist Michael S. Turner and Rocky Kolb, head of the Fermilab/NASA Theoretical Astrophysics Group, at the first Inner Space/Outer Space conference held in May, 1984 at Fermilab and the University of Chicago.Pushing the frontiers of knowledge onward, Fermilab's particle theorists help integrate the massive amounts of data produced by the experiments and provided direction for future experiments. Deep connections between the inner space of this experimental high-energy physics research and the outer space of our universe prompted Lederman to form a partnership with NASA in 1983. The Theoretical Astrophysics Group, the first such group formed at a national laboratory, links the data from the Tevatron's particle collisions with physical conditions not present since the beginning of the universe, the Big Bang.

Through the 1980s the computing technology and power of Fermilab experienced a revolution. Where once small independent consoles with oscilloscopes monitored the accelerator's beam and photographs from the bubble chamber were inspected for unusual occurances, a major effort was launched in this decade to put high performance computing to work to improve our methods of observation and understanding.

A colliding beams event in 1987 Parabola Light Sculpture Show by Charles Derer, August 13, 1983. Comment from the artist: I originally proposed the idea for the light piece to Jack Wiseman at the College of DuPage. He and I then proposed the idea to Mr. Lederman. The sculpture was up for three hours on 13 August, 1983 to coincide with a gathering of high energy physicists. The crowd that viewed the Parabola Project that evening was estimated to be 25,000 people. The Muon Lab was constructed from 1983 to 1985. Fermilab computing in the 1980s

1989 National Medal of Technology recipients: (left to right) Alvin V. Tollestrup, J. Ritchie Orr, Richard A. Lundy and Helen T. Edwards.In 1985 the beam reached 800 GeV and the first collisions of protons and antiprotons (combined energy of 1.6 TeV) were observed at the Colliding Detector at Fermilab (CDF) in October. The beam energy rose to 900 GeV in 1986. The physicists who led the Tevatron project, Helen Edwards, Richard Lundy, J. Richie Orr, and Alvin Tollestrup were awarded the National Medal of Technology in a ceremony at the White House in 1989.

Equipped with the highest energy, most powerful superconducting accelerator in the world the search began for the most exotic particle within reach: the top quark. Two specialized detectors were constructed by large teams of experimenters at CDF and at DZero. As plans progressed for the analysis of unprecedented kinds and amounts of data from the collisions it became apparent that greater computing strength was necessary to track the events and sort out the rare from the common. Another frontier was on the horizon.

Panoramic View ACP Maps and PersonnelDr. Leon M. Lederman and Dr. Robert R. Wilson, pictured at the dedication ceremony of the Feynman Computing Center at Fermilab, Dec. 2, 1988As more information about the collisions became crucial, computers could be programmed to search for the new clues and track only the unique events desired. With the introduction of the Advanced Computer Project (ACP) and its ability to coordinate Fermilab's collision data with analysis by computers we entered a new domain of rapid data acquisition. During the observance of Fermilab's 20th anniversary in 1988 the Feynman Computing Center was dedicated.

Restored prairie at FermilabAlso in 1989 the careful treatment of our natural setting from the Laboratory's founding to the present brought distinction to Fermilab as a Department of Energy National Environmental Research Park. Our open grounds are home to many species of vegetation and wildlife and provide a favorable habitat for their propagation. As the prairie flourishes we are reminded of our legacy of the land.

V. The Peoples Era (1989-1999)

John Peoples, Jr., third director of FermilabIn 1989 Leon Lederman retired and John Peoples was appointed Director of Fermilab. In order to improve the performance of the Main Ring accelerator a new initiative, the Main Injector, was launched in 1989. It began operating in 1999, providing the Tevatron with higher luminosity, increasing the number of particle collisions, and enhancing our ability to "see" them.

Leon M. Lederman Science Education Center, dedicated in 1992.The science education programs, begun in the 1980's under the sponsorship of the Friends of Fermilab and the leadership of Lederman, were provided a permanent home when the Laboratory held a groundbreaking in 1989 for the Lederman Science Education Center

Dedicated in 1992, the Center serves as a base for our expanding horizons, reaching out to bring science to the students and teachers of the nation.

John Peoples, Leon Lederman and Robert Wilson at the Dedication of the Lederman Science Education Center in 1992. Dedication of Lederman Science Education Center, September 25, 1992. Secretary of the Department of Energy James Watkins, and directors Robert R. Wilson, Leon M. Lederman and John Peoples, Jr.

As the Doubler and ACP were examples of physicists inventing their research tools to extend their frontiers, so the World Wide Web was invented in the early 1990's by international collaborations of high energy physicists to improve communications among themselves and their many essential partners.

From 1992 to 1993 the twenty-year old 200 MeV Linac received a boost of energy. This phase of initiatives to improve Fermilab's facilities for the 1990's brought the older Linac up to 400 MeV and increased the intensity of the beam in the Booster, and in turn that of the Tevatron. This improvement also enhances our collider luminosity, allowing us to make more collisions and discover rare events.

Director John Peoples leading the Main Injector Groundbreaking ceremony on March 22, 1993, with guests, Congressman Dennis Hastert, and Senators Carole Mosely-Braun and Paul Simon, and Wilmot Hess from the Department of Energy.On March 22, 1993, a groundbreaking for the Main Injector, the centerpiece of these upgrades, was held. These improvements enabled Fermilab to launch a broader experimental research program with stronger capabilities. Adjacent to the Tevatron on our western border, the Main Injector will boost Fermilab's position for frontier research in the twenty-first century.

John Peoples and Martha Krebs at the press conference for the announcement of the first evidence of the top quark, April 26, 1994.During the1990s the top quark search intensified and in 1994 evidence of its sighting was reported. By 1995 both teams of detector collaborations, CDF and DZero, closed in on their quarry and announced the top's discovery. The two discovering expeditions consisted of almost one thousand physicists from around the globe. An incredible amount of data had been mined in the search for these precious nuggets. Fermilab was the only place on earth where this search could occur.

VI. Conclusion

Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert activating beam to the Main Injector during the Dedication Ceremony as Dr. Steve Holmes looks on, June 1, 1999.As the program at Fermilab moves forward the particle physics field focuses inside the quark and beyond. Fixed-target and colliding-beams experiments continue their searches on the frontier. The KTeV experiment will probe uncharted regions to reveal new information about the differences in the laws of physics between matter and antimatter. The Main Injector will begin a search to investigate whether neutrinos do or do not have mass. Known as the NuMI Project, this research hopes to explain the existence of dark matter in the universe, yielding an explanation of how galaxies form. The Collider program will continue to probe for a deeper understanding of heavy quarks, the bottom and the top. The new Experimental Astrophysics Group will examine the heavens mapping the universe in a Digital Sky Survey.

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Tevatron and Main Injector, September, 1999 Dr. John Peoples of Fermilab, Director of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey from June 1998 to June 2003. The 2.5 meter telescope at Apache Point, New Mexico.

Innovative technologies emerge from the research conducted at Fermilab. Eventually these contribute to improving our society and culture. The knowledge gained enriches our citizens, preparing them for their future.

Fermilab holds a leadership position at this fundamental frontier with the instruments and knowledge needed to explore the unknown. Discoveries lie ahead and beckon our inquiry.

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