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From: Chris Carlen
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.0.0) Gecko/20020529
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Subject: Home brew linear accelerator?
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 17:50:50 GMT
NNTP-Posting-Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 10:50:50 PDT
Every once in a while I get to thinking about the practicality of a
hobbyist/amateur scientist performing entry-level nuclear reaction
experiments with home-made equipment. Like hitting some target with
beta or alpha radiation by use of a small cyclotron or linear accelerator.
I seem to recall that the first cyclotron was hand-sized, so it seems
possible to make such a thing at home. I don't know if that device was
able to produce enough energy though, to cause nuclear reactions.
But another interesting memory that makes me ponder about this is that
while visiting a friend a few years back who had worked on medical
radiation therapy equipment, in which small linear accelerators were
typical, he showed me a very beautiful piece of "art."
This was a square lucite block about 4 inches square with a three
dimensional tree carved out internally, by tiny silvery channels. The
intricacy of the tree was astonishing, and clearly it was not carved out
in the typical sense.
How was this effect created? My friend told me that when repairing the
linear accelerator machines, they would take the opportunity to place a
clear plastic block in the beam path. They would hammer it with
electrons for a while (at least I think they were accelerating
electrons, as they are quite easy to come by).
After some time, the block would be charged with a very hefty charge.
They would then take a grounded metal screwdriver and just touch it to
the block, which would cause the charge to emerge from the block at the
point where the contact occurred. This would create the carving out of
the tree, with the "trunk" of the tree being formed where the
screwdriver was touched.
Has anyone ever seen such an effect, or had experience with this sort of
high energy fooling around? It sure sounds like fun to me! :-)
I wonder if such an accelerator could be made by a serious hobbyist?
One thing that really puzzles me is how an e- beam would behave in
atmosphere. Obviously, it can't propagate for a long distance, and I
would expect that the distance would depend on the energy. How many eV
are needed to make it a few inches? What sort of window would be used
to pass the beam out of the vacuum region?
Christopher R. Carlen
Suse 7.3 Linux 2.4.10
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