Apparatus inside Wright Laboratory at Yale University

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A photo essay. To view all 22 images, check out the email version.

On the back side of Yale’s Science Hill, there’s a science hillock—sort of like a hobbit home, if hobbits had quite a serious interest in cutting-edge physics.

It’s Wright Laboratory, or, as many of its denizens have called it, “The Bunker.” But the nickname, bestowed in part to make light of unpretty digs, isn’t as applicable these days. Through a years-long project finished in late spring, the complex was renovated and redecorated, incorporating new and improved functionality while ramping up the aesthetics and the historiography.

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Examples include a new teaching shop, where students can learn to fabricate the highly specialized equipment they and other scientists need to do their research; a spic-and-span “clean room,” where physicists can do work requiring very sanitary conditions; hallways lined with high-concept glass and photos of important objects or moments in the laboratory’s history; and art pieces like “The Portal,” a blue, seven-ton sculpture made from the door of the lab’s Van de Graaf particle accelerator, which was disassembled in 2014.

Like many of Yale’s more sensitive facilities, Wright Lab isn’t generally open to the public. But students and staff, most especially the lab’s director, Karsten Heeger, were kind enough to let us show you around, by first showing us around.

Wright Laboratory
272 Whitney Ave, New Haven (map)
(203) 432-3090 |

Written and photographed by Dan Mims. Image depicts a force sensor in the center of a vacuum chamber, inside the lab space of faculty member David Moore and PhD student Sumita Ghosh.

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