Accelerate Your Mind: Let’s Smash Atoms

In this month’s edition of WIRED magazine, there is a feature that divulges some really interesting facts about particle accelerators and what really happens when atoms get smashed. This magazine feature directly inspired this posting in the hopes that we can shed some light on something that seems so complex, but has a simple tone to it.

Particle accelerator photograph by Peter Ginter / National Geographic

What is a particle accelerator?

“Did you know that you have a type of particle accelerator in your house right now? In fact, you are probably reading this article with one! The cathode ray tube (CRT) of any TV orcomputer monitor is really a particle accelerator.

The CRT takes particles (electrons) from the cathode, speeds them up and changes their direction using electromagnets in a vacuum and then smashes them into phosphor molecules on the screen. The collision results in a lighted spot, or pixel, on your TV or computer monitor” -HowStuffWorks.
You can think of a particle accelerator as a time of filter in where the atoms are propelled via electron beams. Invision beams shooting themselves through and therein against each other.
In 1496, Ferdinand II, King of Naples, died of mysterious fever.
500 years later scientists used an x-ray microprobe at Brookhaven’s Nations Synchrotron Light Source to analyze his chrotron Light Source to analyze his hair. They found high levels of mercury, suggestion he shampooed with it to treat skin lesions; they’re now testing his bone and muscle to find out if that’ what killed him. -WIRED Magazine
Colorizing Fossiles
There is an interesting happening with dark feathers. They get their color from the chemical eumelanin, which binds to copper. What this does is is cause the feathers to become dark in color. Physicists and paleontologists at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory used synchrotron x-rays to look for traces of the metal in the fossilized feathers of the first species with an avian link.
“Exploring the origins of matter gets all the glory, but particle accelerators are awesome for all kinds of surprising reasons.” -Lizzie Wade
What’s in your cereal – box?
Did you know that because of particle accelerators you are unable to draw a milk mustache over Captain Crunch? It’s true! This is due to particle accelerators. Several years ago, the cereal industry developed the boxes as hard to tamper with by using particle accelerators. What happens is an electon beam at the factory forces the ink’s molecules to rearrange into strong polymer chains. This gives the colorful images a armer-like varnish on each box of cereal.
“Each particle is a microcosm, and faithfully renders the likeness of the world.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson



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