Broken dreams mug


I’ve had this Fermilab-labeled mug ever since I spent the summer working there in 1990 (the picture is from a few years later — ignore the sartorial mis-step of the slouch-shouldered cardigan). Today, sadly, I dropped it fumbling with the keys to my office.

Actually, that was a pretty fun summer. I was working on an idea to detect cosmic axions, with a setup similar to some ongoing experiments but using somewhat odd ferrimagnetic materials. Axions are one of the possibilities for the omnipresent but difficult-to-detect dark matter. For the first and only time in my life, I got to play with superconducting detectors, RF cavities and old-fashioned strip-chart recorders, and not just for some assigned lab project. Alas, the idea didn’t pan out, and axions still haven’t been detected (despite a couple of claims to the contrary).