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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
particle accelerator
▪ A particle accelerator can cost up to f500,000.
▪ If you really want to be devious, you could spend the money on a particle accelerator.
The Collaborative International Dictionary
Particle accelerator

Particle accelerator \Par"ti*cle ac*cel"er*a*tor\, n. (Physics) A large and expensive scientific instrument used by physicists to accelerate elementary particles (such as protons or electrons) to speeds near that of light, for the purpose of investigating the fundamental properties of matter; sometimes also called an atom smasher, since the particles thus accelerated are often directed at targets of atoms which are fragmented by the impact into their more fundamental component particles.

Note: The particles generated by impact of a beam in an accelerator on its target are detected by various types of detecting apparatus, and procedures are required to sort and identify the many particles created. The fundamental particles generated by impacts in a particle accelerator are often those not actually present inside atoms; and in certain types of particle accelerator, such as the colliding beam accelerator, the impact which generates energetic particles is with other fundamental particles, and not with atoms.

particle accelerator

n. A device that accelerates electrically charged particles to extremely high speeds, for the purpose of inducing high energy reactions or producing high energy radiation.

particle accelerator

n. a scientific instrument that increases the kinetic energy of charged particles [syn: accelerator, atom smasher]

Particle accelerator

A particle accelerator is a machine that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to nearly light speed and to contain them in well-defined beams. Large accelerators are used in particle physics as colliders (e.g. the LHC at CERN, KEKB at KEK in Japan, RHIC at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Tevatron at Fermilab), or as synchrotron light sources for the study of condensed matter physics. Smaller particle accelerators are used in a wide variety of applications, including particle therapy for oncological purposes, radioisotope production for medical diagnostics, ion implanters for manufacture of semiconductors, and accelerator mass spectrometers for measurements of rare isotopes such as radiocarbon. There are currently more than 30,000 accelerators in operation around the world.

There are two basic classes of accelerators: electrostatic and electrodynamic (or electromagnetic) accelerators. Electrostatic accelerators use static electric fields to accelerate particles. The most common types are the Cockcroft–Walton generator and the Van de Graaff generator. A small-scale example of this class is the cathode ray tube in an ordinary old television set. The achievable kinetic energy for particles in these devices is determined by the accelerating voltage, which is limited by electrical breakdown. Electrodynamic or electromagnetic accelerators, on the other hand, use changing electromagnetic fields (either magnetic induction or oscillating radio frequency fields) to accelerate particles. Since in these types the particles can pass through the same accelerating field multiple times, the output energy is not limited by the strength of the accelerating field. This class, which was first developed in the 1920s, is the basis for most modern large-scale accelerators.

Rolf Widerøe, Gustav Ising, Leó Szilárd, Max Steenbeck, and Ernest Lawrence are considered pioneers of this field, conceiving and building the first operational linear particle accelerator, the betatron, and the cyclotron.

Because colliders can give evidence of the structure of the subatomic world, accelerators were commonly referred to as atom smashers in the 20th century. Despite the fact that most accelerators (but not ion facilities) actually propel subatomic particles, the term persists in popular usage when referring to particle accelerators in general.

Usage examples of "particle accelerator".

But if these muons are not sitting at rest in the laboratory and instead are traveling through a piece of equipment known as a particle accelerator that boosts them to just shy of light-speed, their average life expectancy as measured by scientists in the laboratory increases dramatically.

The grass blades spread out like a lake of kindling enclosed by the boundary of the particle accelerator.

You do not operate a particle accelerator by pushing an 'On' button.

The Forge was a giant particle accelerator, consisting of over fourteen trillion free-flying components.

Men and women bright enough to run a particle accelerator the size of a small planet likewise had to be at least somewhat aware that they were being manipulated, even as they let it happen.

My time-reversal project had become more experimental than theoretical by this time, since I had moved through the stages of early hypotheses and now was spending most of my time at the giant particle accelerator, trying to build up the forces that I hoped would send fragments of atoms flying pastwards.

You or I can't just glance at an idle particle accelerator and predict, instantly, the outcome of any experiment which might be performed with the machine.

By treating the solar system in the way I treat a particle accelerator: saying, 'This much we know for a fact.

I am not proposing sneaking a CERN particle accelerator past Hoboken customs.