Secretary of Energy Rick Perry visited the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory on Tuesday, January 9, speaking about the significance of the national lab system and how the work being done at the labs impacts nearly every part of the globe.

Perry, as the top official at the U.S. Department of Energy, oversees the 17 DOE National Laboratories that form the backbone of the nation’s scientific infrastructure.

At Argonne, Perry toured two of the laboratory’s standout national user facilities: the Advanced Photon Source (APS) and the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF). The APS, which annually hosts thousands of users from around the world, is currently slated for an upgrade, which will dramatically increase the brightness of X-rays it produces for use in a wide range of different experiments. The ALCF, which like the APS is a DOE Office of Science User Facility, currently hosts one of the nation’s fastest computers, called Mira. The ALCF is scheduled to be the future home of a new exascale high-performance supercomputer — called Aurora — by 2021.

At Fermilab, Perry visited several experiments focused on neutrinos — tiny particles that could hold the key to unlocking the mystery of why matter and the universe exist. The Secretary spoke to lab scientists and engineers about the construction of LBNF/DUNE, Fermilab’s  flagship project that will send the world’s most intense beam of neutrinos from Fermilab in Illinois 800 miles through the earth to massive particle detectors that will be built a mile underground in the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota. He also toured Fermilab’s new Quantum Labs, which highlighted the laboratory’s successful R&D work towards advanced particle accelerator technologies and their potential applications to quantum sensors and quantum computers, and visitedthe laboratory’s herd of bison.