hump day happy place: super kamiokande

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Is this a case of scientists accidentally turning into astonishingly good architects?

Super Kamiokande, nicknamed Super K, is a particle observatory located 1000m below Mount Kamioka, Hida-city, Japan. The first iteration began construction in 1983 and it was reconstructed again in 2006 which is pictured below.

The structure is comprised of two concentric steel tanks covered in a grid of photo multipliers. The two tanks act as an inner detector and outer detector and both are filled with pure water to study how particles move within it. I won't pretend to be an expert in neutrino physics but you can read more about what it does and how it works here.

Being so far underground, this site is almost without context and feels so disconnected from the world we know. The overwhelming scale of space (roughly 30m diameter and 36m high internally) paired with the hypnotic repetition of glowing spheres makes Super K one surreal environment.

In its intensity, perhaps happy place isn't the right description- but if this isn't a case of extreme escapism, then I don't know what is. Someone, get me a pass card or retina recognition or whatever it is I need. I'd love to see myself sailing on that little boat one day. Preferably today.

Images via Super K website.


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