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The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory

Located in a cave more than a mile underground in Canada, SNO can be thought of as a type of telescope, though it bears little resemblance to the image most people associate with that word. It consists of an 18-meters-in-diameter stainless steel geodesic sphere inside of which is an acrylic vessel filled with 1000 tons of heavy water (deuterium oxide or D2O).

Man On Deck

Attached to the sphere are 9,522 ultra-sensitive light-sensors called photomultiplier tubes. When neutrinos passing through the heavy water interact with deuterium nuclei, flashes of light, called Cerenkov radiation, are emitted. The photomultiplier tubes detect these light flashes and convert them into electronic signals that scientists can analyze for the presence of all three types of neutrinos. Lawrence Berkeley Nat’l Lab – Roy Kaltschmidt

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. dafydd says:

    Supporting the sphere from underneath seems like a simpler engineering problem. Vibration damping is just as easy from underneath as it is from suspension.

    1. migpics says:

      Dampening may not be the only criteria for how it was designed. You have to take into account maintenance, accessibility and other factors. If you have it on the ground is there a need for a chamber underneath it?
      Is it easier to access all those components from underneath the sphere with ladders rather than develop a catwalk over it?
      Also, if you need the sphere to be completely filled with water at all times then the column on top with the ability to fill from the top made the best sense.
      It looks like the design optimizes the need for filling it with water and maximizing the number of components on it.

    2. Spades says:

      That way it’s more like a pendulum, maybe that’s beneficial for the design.

  2. sk8sonh2o says:

    OMG that photo looks like a big fly’s eye in a human eye socket. How small can you make one of those?

  3. EthanZ says:

    …is the Super-Kamiokande. It’s cylindrical and water-filled, and there are some great construction photos too.

    http://protofusion.org/wp/2010/05/the-super-kamiokande/
    http://www-sk.icrr.u-tokyo.ac.jp/sk/gallery/index-e.html

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