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Featured Collection

May 2001

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Amit Lath in the large vacuum  chamber at the KTeV  Experiment

Amit Lath in the large vacuum chamber at the KTeV Experiment
Photograph courtesy of Fermilab.
Used with permission.

This month’s featured collection, the Fermilab website, is not only among the best examples of scientific information dissemination on the web, it is also one of the oldest U.S. websites. Established in June 1992, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL) website was either the second or third website in the United States.

The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab)

In 1967, the National Accelerator Laboratory was commissioned by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, and in 1974, the laboratory was renamed in honor of physicist and Nobel Prize winner, Enrico Fermi. The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) has as its mission: to advance "the understanding of the fundamental nature of matter and energy by providing leadership and resources for qualified researchers to conduct basic research at the frontiers of high energy physics and related disciplines." Situated on 6,800 acres approximately 35 miles west of Chicago Illinois, Fermilab is the largest U.S. laboratory for research in high-energy physics, and the laboratory is home to Tevatron, the highest-energy collider in the world. Currently, about 2,500 scientists from universities and laboratories throughout the U.S. and around the world, use Fermilab for their research. Since it is an essential part of the academic research enterprise, Fermilab is operated by the Universities Research Association, a consortium of 89 research universities. An overview of the top ten achievements for Fermilab may be found at

Cockcroft Walton
(first stage accelerator)
Photograph courtesy of Fermilab.
Used with permission.

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL) website

The Fermilab website was established in 1992 as a tool for exchanging particle physics data. It was not until 1994 that Fermilab created the first pages for public use. In April that year, the laboratory announced first evidence of the top quark, and the day after that announcement, the public website received 12,000 hits — a remarkably high number of hits in 1994. Currently, the Fermilab website receives more than 60,000 hits on a typical day.

At the end of the 1990s, the amount of available content at the Fermilab website had become so great that the site was becoming difficult to navigate. On March 1, 2001, a newly redesigned Fermilab website was launched. Work on the new site had begun in February 2000 and was the result of a collaboration between Fermilab website staff and the design firm Xeno Media, with the aim of creating a new architecture and navigation system rather than just giving the site a new look.

The new public website has been organized into ten information "hubs". Each current public page has a spot in one of these hubs and new hubs will be added, as needed, when "uniqueness is clear and critical mass of content is achieved."

Main Control Room of Fermilabīs Accelerator Complex
Photograph courtesy of Fermilab. Used with permission.

So much for the descriptions of the laboratory and the Fermilab website. The fun is in the exploration of the website and its contents. A good place to start might be the hub, About Fermilab where you may wish to take the Virtual Tour described as "the next best thing to visiting Fermilab in person." Then, you might wish to follow your virtual tour of Fermilab with a visit to the hub "Inquiring Minds", which presents links to the following features:

There are many enjoyable paths to follow in your exploration of the Fermilab website. The choice is yours. The Fermilab website is located at

Copyright© 2001 Corporation for national Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/may2001-featured.collection