Saturday, February 6, 2010

Fav Scientist

Oct 22 12:38PM - Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: From our awesome Physics class!
23 Posts
We've heard about Law and Order, it's a pretty good show. What exactly does your particle accelerator do? What would you suggest to make to launch a pumpkin. Would you use a sling shot or a catapolt? We just started a unit on Newton's laws. What's you favorite scientist? Hope to hear from you soon!

Your fellow physicists

The "accelerator" I work on uses electric fields to attract and accelerate charged particles -- mostly protons -- giving them more and more energy and speeding them up closer and closer to the speed of light. We use powerful electromagnets to steer the particles around in a circle so that they can pass through the electric fields again to gain more energy. After they've gone around a few million times, they have "seen" a total of about 1000 Million volts (or 1 Teravolts) of voltage. We say that they have an energy of one TeV (Tera-electron Volts; even though they are protons and not electrons...). So, the machine is called the Tevatron. It's the world's most powerful accelerator, and has been for over 25 years. A new machine coming on-line in Switzerland and France (it's so big it goes across the boundaries of these two countries!) will soon take over as "number one." It will go to 7 TeV energies. Anyway, you can see a picture of the Tevatron here:

(It's the biggest ring in the picture -- 4 miles around!) and our lab's web site (the second web site ever made in the U.S.!!) is here: .

OK, so for a pumpkin accelerator, I'd probably use a sling shot. I suspect that there are many good rubbery slings out there which would be easy to get and that would be much more reliable than a catapult contraption that you'd have to build from scratch. Just my thoughts, but I don't have much experience accelerating large, uncharged objects... ;-)

And, as for my favorite scientist? Newton and Einstein always come to mind. However, I have always like a guy named James Clerk Maxwell. You'll learn about him probably much later in the year. But he did a LOT of things, including the final synthesis that showed the world how light, electricity, and magnetism are all related. He also showed (using pure logic, pen and paper) that the rings of Saturn could not be solid objects -- that they must be made up of broken up rocks or small particles of some sort. It was really quite an amazing thing to calculate and convince people back in the mid-1800's. He won a prize and became famous by that calculation. He did a lot of other things, too, but those are what I remember about him, and I always thought he was a cool dude.


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