Work continues on neutrino lab near International Falls

Scientists are gearing up for construction this spring of a 15,000-ton neutrino particle detector that will be housed in a facility on the Ash River Trail, about 40 miles southeast of International Falls.

The detector will be part of a scientific investigation into the role of subatomic particles in the origin of the universe, according to a story in the The Journal newspaper in International Falls.

The lab is part of the University of Minnesota's School of Physics and Astronomy. The detector will be on the receiving end of particles shot through the earth from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. The Ash River site was selected because it's the furthest possible location in the United States that's in a direct line from the Illinois lab.

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Researchers say the new facility will expand the University of Minnesota's international reputation as a leader in neutrino research. The university also operates the Soudan Underground Laboratory near Tower, Minn.

Project spokesman Gary Feldman, a Harvard University professor, told The Journal the facility itself is now finished and preparations have begun to build the detector. Construction will begin in April and is expected to continue over the next year and a half.

Lab officials are now in the hiring phase. There's currently a crew of 14, but the construction team will grow to 40 by this spring.

Here's a Fermilab report that explains the scientific goals of the project.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided more than $40 million for the project.