Tornow Underground

Friday, June 1, 2012

Prof. Werner Tornow, within a 2-week time frame, was at three underground research facilities. First, in early May he worked with graduate student Sean Finch at the Kimballton Underground Research Facility (KURF) near Blacksburg, VA. In this limestone mine, the two operate a two-neutrino double-beta decay experiment on 96Zr at the 1700 ft level, and are setting up a new apparatus to search for the zero-neutrino double-electron capture of 156Dy. Second, Prof. Tornow attended the Majorana Collaboration meeting in Lead, SD, and went underground to the 4850 ft level of the former Homestake gold mine, where the first stage of the Majorana Demonstrator (zero-neutrino double-beta decay search on 76Ge) will be installed later this year, very close to the location where Ray Davis’ (Nobel prize 2002) chlorine experiment was operated, which led to the discovery of the (now solved) solar neutrino problem. Finally, Prof. Tornow went to Japan on Graduation Day to take an 8-day shift in the Kamioka mine in the Japanese Alps, where the KamLAND-Zen double-beta decay experiment is operated in the cave where the Kamiokande Collaboration (led by Masatoshi Koshiba, Nobelprize 2002) found evidence for neutrino oscillation and also detected neutrinos from SN1987A. KamLAND-Zen searches for the zero-neutrino double-beta decay of 136Xe. During his shift, he taught three Japanese graduate students how to run shifts at KamLAND-Zen. One morning, while standing between the SuperKamiokande (SK) and KamLAND Control Centers in Mozumi (a few miles away from the mine entrance), he ran into his Duke colleague Prof. Chris Walter, who was on SK shift.