Friday, November 11, 2011

Reporter Toured Accelerator Physics Facility, Thought It was "Particle Physics"

I've mentioned before when people confuses "accelerator physics" with particle physics, thinking that these two are synonymous with each other. They are not. Yet, these misindentification continues to dodge the field of accelerator physics.

This reporter got a tour of Jefferson Lab's accelerator complex that produces free electron lasers. FELs are in the domain of accelerator physics, because it is a study of beam dynamics, accelerating structures, insertion devices such as undulators/wigglers, etc.. etc. It has nothing to do with "particle physics", which is the domain of high energy physics/elementary particle physics. Yet, he is giving credit to it being about "particle physics".

I learned that research of ultraviolet and infrared lasers being conducted at Jefferson Lab could have numerous real-world implications, from medical research to producing hockey puck-sized miniature satellites. The satellites would have turbines the size of a penny.

The tour was fascinating, but I have to admit, when I got home, I had a "particle physics" headache that required two aspirin for treatment.
The funny thing here is that JLab is not even considered as a "high energy physics" laboratory, which is what is usually associated with "particle physics". It CEBAF is considered to be a "nuclear physics" facility, very much like RHIC at Brookhaven. Sure, they do particle collision, but these facilities are funded out of DOE Nuclear Physics division, not High Energy Physics, and are not considered as a "particle physics" laboratory the way Fermilab and SLAC were. So even neglecting the fact that this person was touring an accelerator physics facility in the first place, even JLab in general is not technically a "particle physics" lab.

Or maybe I'm just being too anal-retentive....but I'm still accurate! :)


1 comment:

Berserk Dad said...

He is a reporter for the Daily Press, enough said. It is not that great of a newspaper. Even for small town newspapers. I live just a few miles from JLab. We canceled our subscription to the Daily Press a year ago because the writing is was bad enough that we were not reading it anymore. Actually, I am slightly impressed that they even took an interest in it.

Most people do not even realize what JLab is, or even that there is a nuclear physics facility in town. They just drive by all the signs and don't worry about it. Hell, even NASA with all its brand power has the same problem. NASA LaRC is only about 15 miles or so from JLab.