You duck into a cafe and order 27% of a coffee and/or tea. After sitting down you take out your interview cheatsheet. Some of the answers haven't been completed yet. You take a look at the first uncompleted answer.
43. Was the liquid scintillation detector in the Mont Blanc laboratory affected by the 1999 tunnel fire, and if so, how?
You tried looking this up on wikipedia an hour ago but with no luck. Maybe mastodon will know...
Was the detector:
Ah yes, of course. That's the answer.
With all the answers completed, and your 27 100ths of a coffeeandortea slurped into oblivion, you leave the cafe establishment and head to the interview zone.
As you walk into the building, the secretary greets you. "Hello." he says, "This is a building. I'm in the building. Are you in this building?"
What do you say?
"Tunnel Physics Historian!" you say confidently.
"Oh golly!" exclaims the receptionist, "a real life tunnel physics historian! Oh would you please answer a question that has been bothering me? What ever happened to the 90 ton liquid scintillation detector under Mont Blanc in the 1990s? Was it destroyed in the fire?"
You check your cheatsheet with no speed of light delay.
"Not at all. It was removed years before." you say.
The ground begins to rumble.
"THAT IS INCORRECT" a voice booms.
Behind you is an 8 foot tall figure, glowing blue. On their chest in Helvetica is written "HISTORY."
"THE 90 TON LIQUID SCINTILLATION DETECTOR WAS PRESENT IN THE TUNNEL GARAGE BUT FAR AWAY FROM THE FIRE. THE DETECTOR'S FIRE SYSTEM DIDN'T EVEN ACTIVATE. THE FIRE HOWEVER MARKED THE END, AS THE EXPERIMENT CONCLUDED AT LEAST WITHIN THE MONTH." the figure exposits forcefully
@blackle oh come on, the correct answer is obviously to bellow back, "INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER"
@blackle the detector is described as surrounded by 200 tons of solid iron slabs. https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19850027787.pdf
Perusal of Google Scholar shows no new results from Mont Blanc in the 1990s, so it was likely discontinued years before the fire. If it was still present in the tunnel, I doubt that it would have been affected except at most by a loss of electrical power.
@ontploffing I'm not so sure. Another paper using the LSD as data was published in 1992 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/092765059290004J?via%3Dihub
Also this book talks about how a different detector being removed before the fire was "fortunate" https://books.google.ca/books?id=kDFhDQAAQBAJ&pg=PA135&lpg=PA135&dq=%22Mont+Blanc+Laboratory%22+tunnel+fire&source=bl&ots=AwhlnZDVrV&sig=ACfU3U1aeJAFzmqG5TipyxOUStd1s3epIA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwizqPfAgPvhAhVPJt8KHXzcCBEQ6AEwAHoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22Mont%20Blanc%20Laboratory%22%20tunnel%20fire&f=false
@ontploffing Even if there are iron slabs protecting it, maybe it could still be damaged by smoke if the slabs are not airtight around the detector.
The individual scintillation detectors are at least watertight, so we're looking for smoke damage to the outside of the equipment.
@blackle I hadn't considered Google Books search; this result certainly makes it seem like the tunnel fire was the end of the experiment: https://books.google.com/books?id=B9zvAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA114&dq=%22Mont+Blanc%22+tunnel+fire+lsd&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjcgNXvifvhAhVollQKHY9eB8cQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=%22Mont%20Blanc%22%20tunnel%20fire%20lsd&f=false
@ontploffing the plot thickens
@blackle One of us is going to end up digging up contact info on the primary investigators and emailing them, huh?
@ontploffing it's quite the mystery, isn't it? it seems like the kind of thing that should be easily found in a final experiment report, but it's not. or, at least, the final report isn't online
@blackle the final experiment report is probably in French
@blackle Ooh, this paper says that it persisted until March, 1999, which is the month that the fire was: https://www.epj-conferences.org/articles/epjconf/pdf/2018/26/epjconf_quarks2018_03004.pdf
Gonna email some of the authors.
@ontploffing let me know what happens! try emailing from an edu domain if you have one...
@blackle From Dr. Stanley Yen:
I actually have no personal knowledge of the history of the Mont Blanc detector
and its history. One of the Russian co-authors of this paper said it ended in 1999
and I accepted that. I did not know that there was a fire.
For more details of the history, you could ask someone
who was personally involved, like Dr. Walter Fulgione <email redacted>
So I'll email Dr. Fulgione.
@ontploffing Holy shit that was fast
@ontploffing you definitely have your foot in the door now
@ontploffing what exactly did you send dr. yen in the email?
copy-pasted email, part 1
@blackle Dr. Yen,
Thank you for your time. A friend and I were researching the history of the Mont Blanc Liquid Scintillation Detector. Our research has turned up several papers claiming that the LSD was in operation until 1999, and a paper that you wrote in 2018 (https://doi.org/10.1051/epjconf/201819103004) has the most-specific claim that we have found: that the LSD was in operation until March 1999.
copy-pasted email, part 2
March 24, 1999 was the date of the Mont Blanc Tunnel fire. We haven't found any citations for our guess that the tunnel fire directly caused the end of the LSD experiment.
Is there any information that you can point us to about the end of the Mont Blanc LSD?
Thank you for your time,
@blackle I sent pretty much the same thing to Dr. Fulgione, but since he's probably in Italy we might not get a response until tomorrow.
@ontploffing let's hope that he's not on vacation
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