10 Reasons Why You Can’t Live Without A Particle Accelerator

Physicists use particle accelerators to answer questions of fundamental physics—how our universe was created, why objects have mass, and so on. Accelerators are huge—Fermilab’s Tevatron, near Chicago, is four miles in circumference, while the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva is more than four times that size—and extremely expensive. In some ways, they’re the epitome of the pure research instrument. But if you think these machines have no use outside of research, you’re in for a surprise.

Particle accelerators have been winding their way out of research labs and into industry for decades, and new applications continue to be dreamt up. When federal money for fundamental research dwindled, scientists started to invent new funding methods. Robert Kephart, director of the Illinois Accelerator Research Center (IARC) at Fermilab, partnered with the Illinois State Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to fund science research and applied applications of accelerators. In its 2009 capital bill, the state allocated $20 million toward research at Fermilab, which will be raised the same way states raise money to build roads and bridges—by selling state bonds.

Here are 10 applications of accelerators you

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