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Modern Physics Visits Nuclear Reactor

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The Modern Physics class learns about what goes on behind the scenes at the Oak Ridge lab.

The Modern Physics class learns about what goes on behind the scenes at the Oak Ridge lab.

The Modern Physics class learns about what goes on behind the scenes at the Oak Ridge lab.

Lyndsey Risinger, Assistant Sports Editor

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On Sunday, April 2, a handful of physics students from the Modern Physics class departed on a visit to the Oak Ridge National Lab in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Physics instructor Dr. Charles Vaughan noted the purpose of the trip was to reward the students as well as to give them a learning experience.

“This trip was intended to be not only a reward for seniors who stuck it out and went through a majority of the most rigorous physics courses but also to provide an enriching, networking, real world collaborative experience for them,” Vaughan explained.

The class toured several facilities at the Oak Ridge National Lab, including the historic site at which uranium was enriched to create plutonium for use in The Manhattan Project. Senior Emily Hook found this portion particularly striking, saying, “Having visited the atomic bomb memorial in Hiroshima, I felt a much deeper emotional response to seeing the ‘other,’ more scientific side of the controversial technology.”

The class also visited The American Museum of Science and Energy.

Perhaps the most influential part of the trip however was the opportunity that the students received to gain access into the control room for the nuclear reactor. Vaughan stated that “they usually take them through the ‘dummy’ control room where training happens, but our tour guide actually let us go into the main control room.”

Senior Jenny Nguyen also noted, “Most workers don’t even see the control room during their time at TVA, so this VPA access was incredibly unique!”

Nguyen said that the trip taught her a lot of new things. “The trip definitely expanded my knowledge on several things like Cherenkov radiation, HFIR, and supercomputers.”

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Modern Physics Visits Nuclear Reactor