The men (of course it need not be only men, but in this case it is) huddle around monitors looking at computer codes and figures, muttering. Everything is running fine, but something looks fishy. They gather, discuss, go back to their stations and congregate once more.

It is a diverse group ranging in age from 20’s to 60’s, an international assemblage with Germany, Japan, Poland, and the United States represented. A clock on the wall reads quarter to 1 in the morning. Most have been here since the afternoon. Some have been here even longer, sleeping on couches in the atrium when naps are needed. Here is science in action, a world not often described in books or shown in movies.

On a nearby table are bags of chips, some bread, peanut butter, jelly, and most important, a pot of coffee. Do the coffee farmers halfway around the world know that they are growing the fuel of late-night science?

The night progresses. What was once a problem, so typical in nuclear physics, has been resolved, and the data is coming out as expected. Plans are made for the next day’s actions in the experiments-changes to be made in set-ups, new approaches to be investigated. Most leave, ready for several hours of rest, maybe 4 or 5, after a long day. A fresh batch replaces them to monitor the experiment for the night. Now the lab is empty except for the beam operators and a duo from the experiment team.

It will be months before all the data is analyzed and results are made, but now, in the silent, lonely hours of the night, just as in the morning when the lab is bustling, is when the discoveries begin. The blood and sweet, or eyes laden with tears from fatigue, are small sacrifices in experimental nuclear physics to those searching for a look into the world of the nucleus.

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