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Sanford Underground Research Facility: a.k.a., Grampy’s Old Homestake Mine

Sanford Underground Research Facility: a.k.a., Grampy’s Old Homestake Mine

May 25, 2018

Dear WinkWorld Readers,

Well, Homestake Mine of Lead, SD wasn’t really Grampy’s, but I did believe that he was the most important miner in the whole wide world, when I was a little girl, and he worked at the mine.  In addition, I was sad when the Homestake mine closed in the early 2000s.  However, it was soon after that we started to hear stories about the dream of changing the old mine into a new world-class research center.  Dare we hope? Yes, soon the State of South Dakota donated to get the ball rolling, and then Denny Sanford donated more, and Sanford research lab one mile down into the earth was off and running.  I was lucky enough to visit (March 17, 2018), and  I kept hearing words like, billions of dollars–a capital B and a capital S: Many groups are supporting the research now.

As soon as we had on our helmets, goggles, jumpsuits, and had signed all of the disclosures forms, we were ready to go down.

So, off we went, jammed in an old cage to the 4850′ to search for the the secrets of the universe.


Now, please remember that I am not a chemist, nor a physicist, much less an astro-physicist, but as I understand it, they are conducting the various research projects at this level because that mile of dirt protects the projects from the rays of the sun.

These various research projects take place in different caverns, ooops, I mean, on different campuses underground, and we traveled from campus to campus via their little train.

President Jim Rankin of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Dr. Wendy Rankin are in front of us. This little 11 sec. video gives you a sense of that train ride from one campus to another.

Here is the same 11 second video on YouTube, if you prefer.  

The research involves various universities, agencies, and countries, but of course, my 2 favorites research groups are South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and Black Hills State University.

The research seems to be searching for the missing mass of the universe? Matter and anti-matter: Where is all of the anti-matter? What is a neutrino, and why do they shoot them underground from Illinois to SD? What are the secrets of the universe?  And, if I heard correctly, one of the experiments is attempting to reproduce what is in the sun.  And, no, I did not see the sun down there. But, as the Lakota and Carl Sagan taught us: We all come from the sun.

CBS news video (6 + minutes)

The Davis Campus: Underground it is even divided into different campus.  The Davis campus is named after Ray Davis?

Who is Ray Davis? He did slow, methodical research way underground for 30 years.

This 14 minute video pretty much reflects my experience going down in that cage, which takes 12 minutes to get to the 4850′ level.  As I understand it, this little yellow cage only takes 3 minutes when it is loaded with rock on the way back up to ground-level.

Thank you to John Dagit for posting the following video.


Talk about Research Rapture–I cannot even imagine how these physicists must feel about their work.  It was absolutely thrilling just to hear them talk about their projects.   However, I did ask several of the physicists and astrophysicists IF any of them were writing stories for kids of all ages.  I think we need to capture the magic and the mystery of these research projects in order to engage children and teenagers with such important concepts.  For example, why not a book about “What is a neutrino?” or “Who is the Ray Davis?” or “What do you mean we come from the sun?”

OK, Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s book, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry has been on my stack of books by my bed far too long – time for me to read it!  He makes complex information comprehensible and intriguing for me.

Previously, I wrote about Research Rapture, and I thought of this post when I was in Sanford Mine.  Here it is again.

Research Rapture and The Din In The Head


  • Annabel Crites

    What is a neutrino? I was fascinated to learn about this fantastic research facility and in awe of their projects. Thanks for sharing. We’re never too old to learn.

    • Joan Wink

      Oh, dear, I was afraid someone would ask me that question. Let me try…neutrinos are little teeny, tiny things (particles) that make up much of the universe, and people do not understand them well. Kind of like electrons, but they do not carry electricity. There is a YouTube which calls them the vampires of physics,
      I am in so far over my head….those physicist and astro physicists really do need to start writing children’s books….at least for me.

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