How to Make a Particle Accelerator, In Under 5 Minutes
An under-5-minute explanation of how you make a particle accelerators.
When we read about the latest in physics, we’re so excited by some strange new particle that we may take for granted the high-tech device that allowed physicists to make their discovery. We know vaguely what the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), for example, is — a particle accelerator — and we know where it is — beneath the France/Switzerland border near Geneva — and we know it smashes atoms after spinning them around a 27-kilometer ring. But how do they get those atoms moving? Do they just pour them into one end and shout, “go?”
In less than five minutes, one of the people who designs particle accelerators, Suzie Sheehy, explains how these amazing beasties work and how you build one. Well, not you, or me, but a team of very smart people like her.
The LHC is the largest machine in the world. Here’s just a bit about the thousands of magnets it contains to give you a sense of the collider’s scale, and of the tech involved. The LHC has 1232 15-meter dipole magnets to bend its particle beams, and 392 5-7-meter quadrupole magnets to focus them. Another kind of magnet pushes them together to increase their chances for a productive collision. Oh, also, the magnets have to be cooled down to ‑271.3°C, which is colder than outer space.
We are constantly trying to force the world to look like us — we need to move on.
- When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, many Americans jumped for joy. At the time, some believed there weren't going to be any more political disagreements anywhere in the world. They thought American democracy had won the "war of ideas."
- American exceptionalism has sought to create a world order that's really a mirror image of ourselves — a liberal world order founded on the DNA of American thinking. To many abroad this looks like ethnic chauvinism.
- We need to move on from this way of thinking, and consider that sometimes "problem-solving," in global affairs, means the world makes us look like how it wants to be.
Scientists make an important discovery for the future of computing.
- Researchers find a new state of matter called "topological superconductivity".
- The state can lead to important advancements in quantum computing.
- Utilizing special particles that emerge during this state can lead to error-free data storage and blazing calculation speed.
French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
- French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.