Albert Swank Jr., a 55-year-old civil engineer in Anchorage, Alaska, is a man with a mission. He wants to install a nuclear particle accelerator in his home. But when neighbors learned of plans to place the 20-ton device inside the house where Swank operates his engineering firm, their response was swift: Not in my backyard.Link.
Local lawmakers rushed to introduce emergency legislation banning the use of cyclotrons in home businesses. State health officials took similar steps, and have suspended Swank's permit to operate cyclotrons on his property.
"Some of the neighbors who are upset about the cyclotron have started calling it SHAFT -- Swank's high-energy accelerator for tomography," attorney Alan Tesche said. "Part of what's got everyone so upset is we're not sure when it's going to arrive on the barge. We know Anchorage is gonna get the SHAFT, but we just don't know when." Tesche is also the local assemblyman who represents the area where Swank and his cyclotron would reside.
Johns Hopkins University agreed to donate the used cyclotron, which is roughly six feet tall by eight feet wide, to Swank's business, Langdon Engineering and Management. The devices are relatively scarce in Alaska, and are used to produce radioactive substances that can be injected into patients undergoing PET scans.
Image: When Mr. Swank was 17, he built this cyclotron at his home -- in the same living room where he wants to install the larger, 20-ton model from Johns Hopkins (actually, it weighs more like 40 tons when you include all the shielding and stuff).
Boing Boing editor/partner and tech culture journalist Xeni Jardin hosts and produces Boing Boing's in-flight TV channel on Virgin America airlines (#10 on the dial), and writes about living with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 2011. @xeni on Twitter. email: email@example.com.