TRIUMF celebrates its first four decades

A little more than 40 years after TRIUMF was formally introduced to the world with the planting of an apple tree from Sir Isaac Newton's family estate, the laboratory threw open its doors to the community to show off the fruit borne by four decades of basic and applied research. On 8 August TRIUMF celebrated its 40th anniversary with a festive open house, where for only the second time, the lab was open to the public for self-guided tours, physics demonstrations, games, fun for kids and free food. More than 1300 people came to this milestone event and they were not disappointed – some 100 TRIUMF employees volunteered on a pleasantly warm Saturday afternoon to talk to visitors along the tour route, answer questions, give demonstrations and explain the experiments and apparatus currently in operation.

"A fifth of the lab gave up their Saturday to show TRIUMF off to the community," explains Colin Morton, ISAC beam physicist and key member of the open-house planning committee, "and it was their enthusiasm that really made the event a success". His sentiments were echoed by many of the visitors who enjoyed talking to the scientists and were inspired by the passion and enthusiasm that they expressed for their work. The physics demonstrations were also a big hit, from the superconducting levitating train to the physics magic show, the cosmic-ray shower detectors and the liquid-nitrogen demonstration.

One highlight was the ceremony commemorating the 40th Anniversary of TRIUMF's dedication and the original planting of Newton's apple trees. During the ceremony, Mark Halpern of the nearby University of British Columbia (UBC) talked on the physics of apples, gravity and Newton, while TRIUMF co-founder and director emeritus Erich Vogt put TRIUMF into context as an evolving initiative in science, excellence and innovation for Canada. Invited dignitaries gave their observations on the lab's achievements and contributions to the advancement of Canadian health and science. They included local federal member of parliament, Joyce Murray; local provincial member of the legislative assembly (and formerly of TRIUMF ), Richard T Lee; the executive director of the University Neighbourhood Association, Jan Fialkowski; the vice president of research at UBC, John Hepburn; and the federal minister of state for science and technology, Gary Goodyear (via prepared video).

At the end of the ceremony, Lorna Warren, wife of the late John Warren, a TRIUMF co-founder and its first director, unveiled a plaque commemorating the 40th anniversary. Many of TRIUMF's scientists present at the 1969 ceremony were in attendance and were moved by the significance of the event. A special display of photographs helped to honour their contribution to the lab's four decades of success. "It was great to see so many of the pioneers who helped to make TRIUMF a reality 40 years ago return from retirement to celebrate the anniversary and see what had become of their creation," says Michael Craddock, himself a TRIUMF pioneer (and longtime lab correspondent for CERN Courier). "…Lorna Warren's description of the genesis of subatomic physics at UBC after the Second World War was particularly interesting. A worthy commemoration of TRIUMF's roots and a credit to the present staff responsible for the many and various arrangements!"