Homestake Receives Large Private Contribution
A colleague sent me this link on a major private contribution of $70 million to developing the Homestake mine in South Dakota into a major underground science lab. Underground facilities are used by particle physicists to study rare processes like proton decay, solar neutrino interactions, search for dark matter, etc. In all of these processes cosmic ray interactions can fake a signal and putting the detector underground shields the experiment from cosmic rays.
Other fields of science like biology and geology have their own reasons to work underground. The National Science Foundation has been looking at proposals to develop a multidisciplinary underground lab, and one of the proposals uses the Homestake mine. This contribution could give the Homestake proposal an advantage over the competition.
Unlike astronomy which frequently receives private donations to build telescopes, particle physics has not traditionally received significant private funds for facilities. There was a recent $13 million donation to operate the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Lab, but that is nuclear physics.