- Editor’s Note: Reidar Hahn specializes in bringing physics to life. As Fermilab’s house photographer, he has been responsible for documenting most of what goes on in and around the lab for the past almost 30 years. His photos reveal the inner workings of complicated machinery. They show the grand scale of astronomical studies. This is the second in a series of articles and images of Fermilab, presented here courtesy of Hahn, writer Molly Olmstead and the Fermilab Frontiers e-newsletter. Scroll down for links to previous articles.
- FEATURE PHOTO CAPTION: “The Tevatron,” by Reidar Hahn
“I knew they were going to be shutting down the Tevatron — our large accelerator — and I wanted to get a striking or different view of it. It was 2011, and it would be big news when the lab shut it down.
“This was composed of seven different photos. You can’t keep the shutter open on a digital camera very long, so I would do a two-minute exposure, then do another two-minute exposure, then another. This shot was done in the dead of winter on a very cold day; It was around zero [degrees]. I was up on the roof probably a good hour.
“It took a little time to prepare and think out. I could have shot it in the daylight, but it wouldn’t have had as much drama. So I had fire trucks and security vehicles and my wife driving around in circles with all their lights on for about half an hour. The more lights the better. I was on the 16th floor roof of the high-rise [Fermilab’s Wilson Hall]. I had some travelling in other directions, because if they were all going counter-clockwise, you’d just see headlights on the left and taillights on the other end. They were slowly driving around—10, 15 miles an hour—and painting a circle [of light] with their headlights and taillights.
“This image shows a sense of physics on a big scale. And it got a lot of play. It got a full double spread in Scientific American. It was in a lot of other publications.
“I think particle physics has some unique opportunities for photography because of these scale differences. We’re looking for the smallest constituents of matter using the biggest machines in the world to do it.”
More Images of Fermilab
Read the Series
- Images of Fermilab: Introducing Reidar Hahn, the Fermi Photographer