The diversity of particle accelerators

Today, I got to tour several particle accelerator research labs at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, including an inside look at a working accelerator, something I'd never seen up close before. Suffice to say, it was awesome, and I will be posting more on that here after I'm able to do a few more interviews.

I wanted to show you something real quick, though, from early in the tour. Postoc Daniel Bowring showed me a display, seemingly set up in the corner of a random hallway, where LBNL keeps a collection of segments from different types of particle accelerators.

If you're anything like me, when you picture a particle accelerator what you think of is something like the image above—a metal donut, or rather, a tube. What I learned today: Accelerators don't have to look like that. In fact, they come in a delightful variety of shapes.

Read the rest

Synchrotrons explained (with donuts)

Synchrotrons are a type of particle accelerator—a family of machines that includes the famous Large Hadron Collider.

Different synchrotrons do different jobs. The Diamond Light Source synchrotron in the United Kingdom focuses on producing high-energy beams of light, which are used to aid all different kinds of scientific research—from microbiology to archaeology.

In this short video, Harriet Bailey and Alice Lighton of Elements, a British science news page, explain how Diamond produces light to begin with and how synchrotrons work. They do this, using a model built out of donuts.

This is part of a package of stories on the Diamond Light Source synchrotron. Go to Elements to check out the rest of their coverage, and learn about how this synchrotron is being used for tasks like preserving historic ships and fighting cancer!

Video Link

Via Ed Yong