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Separating Fact from Fiction at Argonne National Laboratory

The Department of Energy lab in Lemont turns 70 this month. Rumors about it abound. (No, nuclear experiments didn’t turn its deer white.)

White deer
Photo: Courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory
  • About those white deer. Yes, they did exist (thanks to the previous landowner’s private menagerie, not radioactivity) but were thought to have died out due to inbreeding. Not so: One last beast was spotted this spring.
  • There’s a massive atrium-size Zen garden in a computer science building. Research can be stressful, man. But this retreat gives scientists a place to unwind.
  • Director Ang Lee’s designers modeled the Gammasphere in Hulk after the lab’s. Scientists use the real spectrometer to study forces inside atomic nuclei.
  • Paul Harvey tried to sneak into the lab. The conservative radio broadcaster was busted in the early ’50s trying to climb over a fence. To this day, no one knows for sure why he did it.

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