Particle accelerator

Particle accelerator. It is the set of huge machines that accelerate charged particles (ions) by electromagnetic fields in a hollow tube in which the vacuum has been made, and finally collide each ion with a stationary target or other moving particle .


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  • 1 How does it work?
  • 2 Particle Path
  • 3 First particle accelerator
  • 4 Einstein’s Contribution
  • 5 First steps and progress
  • 6 READ
  • 7 CERN
  • 8 Hubble
  • 9 LHC
  • 10 Sources

How does it work?

Scientists analyze the results of the collisions and try to determine the interactions that govern the subatomic world. (Generally, the collision point is located in a bubble chamber , a device that allows the trajectories of ionizing particles to be observed as lines of tiny bubbles in a chamber filled with liquid.)

Particle path

The paths of the accelerated particles can be straight, spiral or circular. Both the cyclotron and the synchrotron use a magnetic field to control the trajectories of the particles. Although colliding particles against each other may initially seem like a rather strange method of studying them, particle accelerators have allowed scientists to learn more about the subatomic world than any other device.

Cyclotron, the first particle accelerator.

First particle accelerator

The first circular accelerator was called: cyclotron . The American physicist Ernest O. Lawrence was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1939 for the invention and development of the cyclotron, a device for accelerating subatomic particles. Lawrence developed the cyclotron, the first circular accelerator. It is a kind of linear accelerator wound in a spiral. Instead of having many tubes, the machine only has two hollow vacuum chambers, called des, whose shape is that of two capital D opposed to each other.

magnetic field produced by a powerful electromagnet causes the particles to move in a curved path. The charged particles accelerate each time they pass through the gap between the debris. As the particles accumulate energy, they spiral toward the outer edge of the accelerator, where they end up coming out.

Einstein’s Contribution

According to Einstein’s formula E = mc², mass is a type of energy . This means that energy can be transformed into mass and vice versa. In particle accelerators this is used to transform kinetic energy into mass, in a particle collision. In this way, new particles can be created in particle collisions with high relative speeds. In the search for new heavy particles it is important to be able to accelerate particles to high energies. At higher energy than the original particles, heavier particles can be created in particle collisions.

First steps and progress

European Organization for Nuclear Research , a European research institution whose headquarters are located in the Swiss city of Meyrin (located near Geneva , on the border between France and Switzerland ). It is better known by the acronym CERN, corresponding to the name by which it was founded in 1954 : Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (European Council for Nuclear Research).

Accelerators have been built at CERN since the 1950s . Today there is a great system of linear and circular accelerators. Some of the older accelerators are still used to start particle acceleration before being sent to the longer accelerators. CERN’s accelerator system can accelerate electrons, positrons, protons, and different types of ions.

The 14 of July of 1989 , the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille across France celebrated the bicentenary of the beginning of the Revolution . At 4:30 pm the same day, the physicists at CERN, the international research center for particle physics located in Geneva, celebrated the start-up of the LEE (Large Electron Positron Collider), the largest scientific machine built until then.

Housed in a circular tunnel about 27km in diameter (almost all under French territory), the LEE is an accelerator that causes particle collisions at very high speed, to achieve extremely high energies. It is capable of creating the conditions that reigned a fraction of a second after the great explosion that supposedly gave rise to the universe, as well as causing the formation of particles and determining effects that have not occurred since then.

Physicists in particular hoped to create Z particles, the existence of which had been predicted in the 1960s, within the framework of the theory that unifies electromagnetism with the weak nuclear force. Z particles, carriers of this weak force, were first observed in mid-August of that year and the evaluation of the first results was ready by the end of October.


The LEE was the culmination of almost ten years of planning and construction, at a cost of around 80,000 million pesetas. At the time the LEE came into operation, the United States planned to build an even more gigantic machine in Texas , the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC), with a circumference of 84 km and an estimated cost of more than 100,000 million pesetas. However, if it were to become a reality, this project could easily constitute the end of the journey in this sense, since physicists are currently turning their attention to new techniques with linear machines instead of circular machines.



CERN, founded in 1953 , was from the beginning a cooperative company with the participation of 14 European countries. Physicists from other countries, including the Soviet Union , Japan and the United States, have subsequently participated in their research programs. It was one of the indications of a new pan-European movement, also reflected in the economic and political spheres. Europe was not without scientific talent, as evidenced by continued success in winning the Nobel Prize, but in many fields individual countries were in no way able to compete with the United States.

It was not only a financial problem but also the availability of qualified scientific personnel. In the absence of opportunities in their countries, European scientists. And At Fermillab, (image below) in Illinois, USA, a highway marks 6km in circumference of the laboratory’s underground particle accelerator ring. In 1913The Fermllab perfected its facilities by installing superconducting magnets and in 1990 it was still producing the most energetic proton beams in the world. They yielded to the attraction of the United States, which offered them higher wages and better facilities. This trend was particularly noticeable in the field of physical science, the realm of “big science” projects. Scientific cooperation in Europe gained new momentum in 1973 with the entry of Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark into the European Economic Community. New initiatives included the European Space Agency (founded 1975 ) and the EC’s multidisciplinary research center (15-FRA), based in Italy.

But in science, as in other human activities, trends and needs change, and strategies must change accordingly. In Great Britain, for example, Harwell’s large atomic energy research laboratory (a source of national pride during the post-war euphoria and important negotiating factor in the exchange of information with the United States) had to be reorganized and, to a certain extent, Thus, earning a living through contracts with the industry.

In contrast, the IET (Ioint European Toros) experimental project, designed to produce energy by merging light nuclei, such as inside the Sun, began operating in 1983 , in the nearby town of Culham. But even this project was losing favor with public opinion when environmental movements (opposed to all forms of nuclear energy) gained strength and influence, especially considering that the results of the program could be measured more in decades than in years.



The first major scientific event of the 1990s was the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit in April 1990 , after twenty years of planning. But his supposed ability to “see the universe ten times more deeply than previously used” did not impress opponents of a $ 1.3 billion investment for a pure research project, including many scientists with budgets. scarce. At the same time, the reevaluation of the Supercollider program began.

Although the exploration of the most remote particles of the atom and the most remote regions of the universe has continued to captivate the popular imagination, activity in other fields of the physical sciences has also been intense. In fact, progress in these two fields would have been impossible without the progress made in many other areas. Even the classical disciplines of physics have proven capable of providing new surprises.

In the field of magnetism, known since ancient times, the discovery of liquid magnets has opened new perspectives. These magnets consist of tiny particles of magnetic materials, such as certain iron oxides , dispersed in a liquid like ordinary colloids, the particles do not separate from the liquid. Each one acts as a small permanent magnet and can also confer remarkable properties on the liquid, usually called ferrous fluid.


THE LHC: The LEP accelerator was operational between 1989 and 1995 . It was then dismantled to make room for a new throttle in the same tunnel. The name of the new throttle is Large Hadronic Collider, LHC. LHC, unlike LEP, will collide beams consisting of protons. Collisions, much more energetic, 14 TeV, will be possible by replacing LEP electrons and positrons with protons.



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