menu search

Most People Don’t Know There Is A Nobel Prize-Winning Underground Lab A Mile Beneath South Dakota

There are plenty of underground mines in nearly every single state, but you will never guess what this one in South Dakota is hiding… and it just might alter the universe as we know it.

One mile beneath the surface of Lead, South Dakota, the tunnels of a 125-year-old gold mine have been transformed into an incredibly advanced astrophysics lab dedicated to studying the building blocks of the entire universe. Sanford Underground Research Facility is the deepest underground lab in the country, and even though it has only been in action for a couple of years, it has already produced some impressive research.

Have you ever heard of a solar neutrino? They are one of the smallest sub-atomic particles and about 65 billion of them are passing through each centimeter of your body every single second. Whoa.

If you ever hear someone complain that South Dakota has nothing but farms, ask them if they have ever heard of a neutrino and then kindly tell them that this state is actually home to one of the most advanced astrophysics labs in the world. If they don’t believe you, show them this video, which was shot and shared by Great Big Story on YouTube.

You may be wondering why scientists are studying the stars from deep underground… with such an unfathomable amount of neutrinos emitted from the sun and other stars, it is nearly impossible to study them without interference from others; but one mile underground, the interference is almost zero.

This location is actually so perfect that it won its first Nobel Prize long before the high tech lab was even planned, back when this mine (which was then called the Homestake Gold Mine) was still in operation. Between 1970 and 1994, astrophysicist Raymond Davis, Jr. gathered research here, and his work won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2002. Much of the research done today in the state-of-the-art facility continues to expand upon his work.

To see more incredible stories like this one from across the globe, head over to the Great Big Story channel on YouTube. You will be amazed by what you will learn about our wonderful world!

Meg Archer
Meg is the Contributions & Creative Content Editor for OnlyInYourState. She works in source research, concept development, and business outreach. Meg enjoys playing with her food (cooking), writing furiously (at inconvenient moments), and exploring (everything and everywhere).