Nationally renowned nuclear physicist visits CMU, discusses benefits of FRIB

Michigan State University is building a new Facility of Rare Isotope Beams, an endeavor C. Konrad Gelbke said could bring in about $600 million by 2020.

Gelbke, director of National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and professor of physics at MSU, spoke about building the new facility Thursday at Central Michigan University’s Charles V. Park Library Auditorium to a standing-room-only crowd.

The building will investigate the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions and applications for society, according to MSU’s website.

Gelbke said with isotopes being basic science, they teach people about the properties of nature, which otherwise one couldn’t learn.

“It teaches us about how the elements are made in the universe,” he said. “I think people are interested in how does the world come about which we are made of. Isotopes are playing a very important role in everyday life already.”

Gelbke added that through the new facility and his team, they will make additional isotopes accessible for further applications, which right now people cannot produce.

The Facility of Rare Isotope Beams, currently in its preliminary design, received a $600-million grant from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Gelbke talked about why Michiganders should care about this facility on a bigger scale because it could generate $600 million in Michigan and create jobs.

“One of the things we have to explain to (congressmen) is why this is important for the state of Michigan,” Gelbke said. “(W)hat do they want in Michigan? Jobs, jobs, jobs. It is a job creator.”

Jobs are not the only thing on the list of positive outcomes from this building, he said.

“To have a facility of that caliber will attract and employ very smart people who otherwise would not be lingering around,” he said.

Physics Professor Mihai Horoi invited Gelbke to speak and said he was happy with the turnout.

“I am happy that so many people showed up and they’re exposed to this opportunity which is close to us,” he said. “I hope that they understand how important it is to do high quality research and these opportunities are available to Michigan students.”

DeWitt sophomore Joe Rosin said the he didn’t know Michigan is trying to get on the world map on this level.

“It is kind of cool that we are talking to a lot of different countries and we are spending a lot of money to be known for astrophysics in the next five or 10 years,” he said. “I think it is important because we need to create a lot of jobs in Michigan and this is a huge step towards that process.”

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