Just taking a dip in the pool and working on a Nobel Prize-winning experiment.

In 1964, Brookhaven chemist Blair Munhofen used the Lab’s swimming pool to test this prototype eductor (liquid jet pump), later used in the Homestake Mine neutrino detector out in South Dakota. Nearly a mile underground, eductors like this mixed helium into a 100,000-gallon tank of common dry-cleaning fluid.

The experiment was designed to detect solar neutrinos, ghost-like subatomic particles produced by the nuclear fusion that powers the sun. These elusive cosmic neutrinos interacted with the chlorine molecules in that giant tank of cleaning fluid and created detectable argon atoms. The experiment not only confirmed the existence of solar neutrinos, but it detected just one-third of the quantity predicted by theory – this became known as the solar neutrino problem. The revelation led not only to Brookhaven’s Ray Davis winning the 2002 Nobel Prize, but it also uncovered the shape-shifting oscillations of neutrinos, an ongoing puzzle with major fundamental implications. 


n. the sense that the future is arriving ahead of schedule, that all those years with fantastical names like ‘2013’ are bursting from their hypothetical cages into the arena of the present, furiously bucking the grip of your expectations while you lean and slip in your saddle, one hand reaching for reins, the other waving up high like a schoolkid who finally knows the answer to the question.


According to King, Kubrick, looking for a supernatural subject, chose The Shining after buying stacks and stacks of books. He would sit down with them in his office, read the first two or three pages of each book, and then fling it across the room against the wall. Kubrick’s secretary was in the outside office listening to this series of thumps. One day the thumps ceased; his secretary listened for a while, puzzled, and then went in. Kubrick said, “This is it.” He was reading The Shining

…Once ensconced at Elstree, Kubrick colonized the studio in the way—and for the length of time—that he, virtually alone among modern filmmakers, has the power to do. He held on to sound stages while The Empire Strikes Back, the Star Wars sequel, waited patiently for access. He built the entire maze on the Elstree backlot, as part of the grounds abutting the giant façade of the hotel, and he also made a smaller scale maze for overhead camera shots.

To simulate snow for midwinter scenes, he covered the backlot with white salt, from whose defoliating effects the Elstree soil is still struggling to recover.

"Kubrick Goes Gothic," from the June 1980 issue of American Film Magazine

It’s hard not to marvel at the crimson glow of 1966 science. 

Before the digital revolution converted complex workspaces into flat-screen monitors and unobtrusive computers, the control rooms of big experiments were the ultimate in analog awesome. Our Alternating Gradient Synchrotron—still accelerating particles here at Brookhaven after 53 years—featured just such an array of custom-built electronics.

Just look at all those knobs, dials, and oscilloscopes.


In 2003 the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston presented Matthew Richie: Proposition Player, the artist’s first major museum exhibition. Proposition Player featured artworks created in 2002 and 2003, including a series of major installations made specifically for the soaring interiors of the CAMH. The exhibition highlighted Matthew Ritchie’s complex and imaginary story of the history of the universe as told through his monumental yet intricate paintings, drawings, sculpture, and digital animation.

Learn more about Proposition Player in Art21 website interview here.

Mattew Richie, Proposition Player, 2003. Installation view at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Texas Photo by Hester + Hardaway, © Matthew Ritchie.