Monday, May 20, 2013

How to Sell a Particle Accelerator: Positron-Electron Love Explosions

While the discoveries and excitement surrounding the LHC have started to cool down, a new contender in particle physics is emerging. Over 2000 scientists are currently working on one of two competing particle accelerator proposals: the International Linear Collider (ILC) and the Compact Linear Collider (CLiC). Both projects would smash electrons and their antimatter counterparts — positrons — at speeds nearing the speed of light. The LHC, on the other hand, primarily smashes heavier particles together including protons and lead nuclei.

Several countries aim to host one of these international physics collaborations, and two regions in Japan have created marketing videos to garner support for a future ILC site. With the same goal in mind, both regions took radically different approaches to their video projects.

Below you can see the more popular video created jointly by the Saga and Fukuoka prefectures. The video combines anime, lab coat raps, and a burgeoning friendship that culminates in a positron-electron collision of love as symbolized by two Japanese girls. At least, I think that's what happened.

Be sure to turn on the English subtitles for the full story.



Another group from the Tohoku Conference for the promotion of the ILC took a more conservative approach in the video below.



ILC Facts


The proposed ILC would run over 30 kilometers long, a bit longer than the LHC's 27 kilometer circumference. This new collider would accelerate particles in a straight line unlike the LHC, which accelerates particles in a circular beam path that sits under the Swiss and French countryside.

Synchotrons like the LHC have several advantages over linear colliders (e.g. the one at Stanford's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory). Most notably, particles in synchotrons speed up during multiple trips around the ring, adding more energy than a single trip down a straight path.

Linear colliders have their own benefits, however. They don't require the complex kinds of magnets that keep particles in a circular path — magnets that presented a few troubles during the development of the LHC. Also, linear colliders lead to far less synchotron radiation — a form of energy loss that happens when particles accelerate in a curved path. This radiation limits the speeds and energies of colliding particles, especially smaller, nimbler particles like electrons.

Despite the design differences, scientists behind the ILC project hope to complement and expand upon the science going on at the LHC. High energy electron-positron collisions could reveal more about conditions during the Big Bang, dark matter, and dark energy — the pervasive, invisible energy thought to contribute significantly to the expansion of the universe. Detectors at the LHC hope to reveal similar secrets from the early universe.

But the Saga and Fukuoka prefecture team behind the first video understands that there's more to the project than cold, hard physics. There's a human element to such a large collaboration, and they've definitely tapped into that in a wildly entertaining way.

H/T ILC Newsline

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