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Can labs and light rail coexist? U of M will see if trains pass the test

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Lots of experiments are conducted in science labs.

Some at the University of Minnesota this week will test this hypothesis: sensitive laboratory equipment on the Minneapolis campus will be unaffected by vibrations from neighboring light rail trains.

As the Minnesota Daily reports, U of M officials hope precautionary steps already taken will be enough to keep lab equipment from trembling when the trains go by.

The Central Corridor won't open until next year, but late-night test trains will run along Washington Avenue this week to monitor the effect of the trains on labs in nine university buildings.

Researchers worry equipment that relies on precision -- the imaging of microscopic particles, for example -- could be affected by the vibrations. The Daily reports the university has already relocated two labs (at a cost of more than $25 million) to put them farther away from the trains.

If this week's tests show the vibrations are disruptive, one option could be to slow the speed of the trains as they make their way through campus.

Speaking of vibrations in Minneapolis, Hennepin County raised similar concerns last week about the impending construction of a new Vikings stadium. That work will be done near the county's medical center and crime lab, both of which use equipment that could be disrupted.

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