Physics + stimulus= jobs … and/or mutants

Federal economic stimulus efforts now include $40.1 million for a unique physics experiment just north of the Iron Range that I don’t fully understand. The Mesabi Daily News reports.

The $178 million NOvA neutrino experiment has been studying the mass of the universe by shooting high energy subatomic particles from the Fermi Lab complex near Chicago to a detector deep underground at the Tower-Soudan Mine in Northeast Minnesota. The additional funding, from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was awarded to Fermi Labs to build a second detector at Ash River, between International Falls and Orr.

Sounds like the kind of thing that would make mutants. Mutants could spice things up around here.

Ha ha! Actually it’s just harmless universe measuring. The measuring of a universe that probably includes mutants.

UPDATE: If you’re wondering, it took about 10 hours before someone properly informed me of what the neutrino project actually is. This 2003 City Pages story by Peter Ritter explains the project’s intent quite clearly. Fascinating stuff, actually, and the story properly displays the contrast between Iron Range culture and the culture of the international physics community.


  1. All well and good. This school district needs new blood, even if it is mutated. But that kind of money would buy an awful lot of health care for a lot of people.

  2. It’s rather amazing that even though hundreds of neutrinos pass through your body every second and never interact with it, that they can actually build detectors to detect these incredibly rare occurrences where they do interact with matter.

  3. I’m no physicist, but isn’t the point of this place to TRY to detect the neutrino? So if they don’t detect one, is it the fault of the neutrino or of the detector? (so to speak). I really do wonder if any of the children of the scientists or construction workers will help either the Orr School or the Tower School. I’d like to detect some new students for our district.

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