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Batavia, Illinois: Broken Symmetry: Particle Physics

Straddling the entrance road to the Fermilab particle accelerator is a towering asymmetrical arch. If you understand particle physics, you know what it means.

Pine St., Batavia, IL
At the west entrance to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. I-88 exit onto Farnsworth Ave. N. Drive north three miles. Turn right onto Pine St.; you'll see the sculpture ahead.
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Broken Symmetry Sculpture.

Broken Symmetry Sculpture

Straddling the road to the main entrance to Fermilab is the steel sculpture "Broken Symmetry," created by Fermilab's first director, Robert Wilson. The concept of symmetry breaking is very important in particle physics; it may explain why there is more matter than anti-matter in the universe (in other words, why there is stuff instead of no stuff).

The sculpture, when viewed from underneath, is symmetrical, but when viewed from other positions is non-symmetrical. On one side it's black, on the other, orange (sort of like a chocolate/orange candy, just not as tasty). The sculpture's 21 tons of steel came from the aircraft carrier USS Princeton, which saw extensive action during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Princeton was the also the ship that plucked the Apollo 10 astronauts from the drink in 1969. The reason why old aircraft carrier steel plates were hanging around Fermilab was that it was a cheap way to get metal to filter out background particles during accelerator experiments.

[John Takao Collier, 12/16/2014]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Particle Physics PlaygroundParticle Physics Playground, Batavia, IL - < 1 mi.
Fermilab Pi Power PolesFermilab Pi Power Poles, Batavia, IL - 1 mi.
Particle Accelerator Buffalo HerdParticle Accelerator Buffalo Herd, Batavia, IL - 2 mi.
In the region:
Parachute Martyr Memorial, Burr Ridge, IL - 19 mi.

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