The University of Minnesota today is celebrating the completion of a big new particle detector in northern Minnesota.
The NOvA detector is a huge array of plastic cells filled with mineral oil, built near Ash River on the Canadian border. Light detectors will watch the system for signs of neutrinos, fired from the Fermilab facility in Chicago, about 500 miles away.
It's similar to an experiment in the Soudan Underground Mine on the Iron Range, but will look for a different type of neutrino, said university professor Marvin Marshak. The experiment will examine the difference between the amount of matter and anti-matter in the universe, he added.
"Physicists are curious about things like that. We'd like to understand why there isn't much anti-matter in the universe," he said.
The $278 million project has been years in the making. More than 700 university students helped build the array and scientists from eight countries and 40 different laboratories will be studying the results.