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Particle accelerator

Restarting the world's largest particle accelerator after a two-year overhaul isn't just a matter of throwing a switch and making sure the lights go on. It's an eight-week process of baby steps – one's that involve billions of electron volts. But the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) took a major step forward this week as the CERN team fired up two counter-rotating proton beams that were injected into the LHC using the Super Proton Synchrotron, then accelerated to an energy of 450 GeV each.

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As the saying goes, you can't keep a good particle accelerator down. In Switzerland, CERN has announced that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is back online after a major overhaul and refit. This power-up of the most powerful particle accelerator in the world marks the culmination of two years of work and months of testing, resulting in a significant boost in performance for the giant collider's "season 2." Read More
Taking careful aim with a quadrillion watt laser, researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab claim to have managed to speed up subatomic particles to the highest energies ever recorded for a compact accelerator. By blasting plasma in their tabletop-size laser-plasma accelerator, the scientists assert that they have produced acceleration energy of around of 4.25 giga-electron volts. Acceleration of this magnitude over the short distances involved correlates to an energy rise 1,000 times greater than that of a traditional – and very much larger – particle accelerator. Read More
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have created a new high-temperature superconductor capable of trapping a magnetic field of 17.6 Tesla, improving on a record set over a decade ago. The advance is yet another step toward making superconductors viable for building effective large-scale smart electricity grids, maglev trains and flywheel energy storage. Read More
If you were fascinated by marble runs as a kid, then you'll want to take a look at a new machine created by artist Niklas Roy. The Pneumatic Sponge Ball Accelerator is an interactive installation that sucks foam balls though transparent tubes at high speed. Users can control the direction of the airflow. Read More
Particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are wonders of modern engineering and vending machines for Nobel prizes, but they’re also large – as indicated by the LHC's name – and costly. A new theoretical study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center suggests how lasers could dramatically shrink the size and cost of particle accelerator. If the models hold true, it could remove a significant bottleneck from physics research and open up such machines to industrial and medical applications. Read More
The close of 2013 gives us an excellent opportunity, though satiated with holiday feasts, to look back on a year that has been filled with scientific accomplishment. So it's time to get comfortable on your Binary Chair, sip your hot cocoa from a phase-change mug while your Foodini prints out a batch of cookies and reflect on science stories of note from the past year. Read More
If Angus MacGyver was a particle physicist, he might face a challenge like this: Take a femtosecond laser and a fused quartz grating and make the world's most powerful particle accelerator. Despite the apparent incongruity of the resources and the goal, researchers at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have fabricated a proof-of-principle electron accelerator using just such equipment. In the demonstration, electrons from a 60 MeV beam saw a force of acceleration about ten times greater than possible in a conventional accelerator. Read More
Particle physicists have been eagerly awaiting the first trials of the new Main Injector neutrino beam at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in the US. This new facility is the result of reconfiguration of the Fermilab particle accelerators in the wake of the shutdown of the Tevatron in 2011. The new beam source is now online, and is well on route to becoming the world's most intense focused neutrino source. Read More
The largest single piece of experimental scientific apparatus is currently the Large Hadron Collider bridging the border of France and Switzerland. The control building of the ATLAS detector, one of two general purpose particle detectors built with the LHC, has found itself adorned with a magnificent mural. The story of how the mural came about provides a fascinating glimpse at the crossroads of art and science. Read More