Wednesday, October 28, 2009

America's Accelerator Future

A wonderful article in Symmetry Breaking today on not only the future of accelerator research in the US, but also its importance beyond just the obvious application to high energy physics.

But behind the scenes, smaller and more modest accelerators have been cutting big swaths through the lives of ordinary Americans.

For instance, “The argument’s been made that accelerators have saved more lives than any other biomedical device,” with an estimated 10,000 of them being used to treat cancer, Tom Katsouleas of Duke University told the audience.

More than 18,000 industrial accelerators have been built over the past half-century and most of them are still in use, according to a commentary by Robert W. Hamm in the Oct 09 issue of symmetry; they sterilize medical supplies, analyze materials, toughen the rubber in tires, play a key role in manufacturing the semiconductor chips at the hearts of electronic devices, and even create shink-wrap, among many other things.

I think that I've tried many times on here to dispel the popular misconception of accelerator physics being tied only to particle physics by pointing out that particle accelerators are used in many doctors offices' x-ray machines. Hopefully, this article reinforces that point.


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