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I Are There Engineering Applications Of High Energy Physics?

  1. Nov 28, 2016 #1

    ohwilleke

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    Beyond designing and operating particle accelerators are there any engineering applications of high energy particle physics* now or in the foreseeable future (e.g. next 20-40 years)?

    * i.e. the kind of interactions we are studying at LHC and Tevatron and in lattice QCD, as opposed to the kinds of interactions that might occur in a nuclear reactor or nuclear bomb (which mostly involve the nuclear binding force and one or two kinds of weak force decays that have properties well known from experiment that can be looked up in a reference for engineering purposes without understanding the details of the weak force).
     
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  3. Nov 28, 2016 #2

    mfb

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    Designing and operating particle accelerators is not high-energy particle physics. It is accelerator physics.
    Designing and operating particle detectors is done by particle physicists and engineers, and it is obviously engineering-related as well.

    Nuclear engineering is not about the nuclear reactions either - it is about designing the reactors, using the information on reaction rates and so on from nuclear physics. For estimating the radiation damage in accelerators and detectors, the particle physics part is well understood - you know which type of particles will go through the detector in which rate, and then you have to find materials that can withstand this rate.
     
  4. Nov 28, 2016 #3

    ohwilleke

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    Splitting hairs. When I say designing and operating particle accelerators in that context, I'm obviously talking about everything in a facility like the LHC, and not just one subcomponent of it.

    So the point, which seems to be clear, is simply that nuclear engineering is not the same as the hypothetical "high energy physics engineering" that I am asking about.

    The question still stands. What could it be good for?

    Put another way, other than losing the joy of knowledge held by hep scientists, and by association humanity, is there anything that lack of knowledge of hep make it impossible for us to do in practical terms?
     
  5. Nov 28, 2016 #4

    mfb

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    They are two completely different fields of engineering. Nuclear engineers won't design the offices in a nuclear reactor just because it is in the same building.

    Particle detector design? It has applications in medicine, material science, the semiconductor industry, ...

    PET systems wouldn't exist without high-performance particle detectors, x-ray scans and tumor treatment got much better, x-ray detection is also used to to measure the structure of various biological molecules, ...
     
  6. Nov 29, 2016 #5
    So far everything new starting roughly from discovery of muon did not (yet?) find a serious practical application.

    Muon-catalyzed fusion was an exciting possibility, but unfortunately, seems to be not possible.
    Muon mapping of Fukushima reactors?

    Mesons? Can't recall any applications.

    Neutrino astronomy may become interesting, but it needs larger and better detectors.

    There are side benefits from R&D in accelerator and detector technologies.

    Maybe it's a good thing we did not discover a way to build a "catalyzed proton decay bomb". Nuclear bombs are bad enough, thank you.
     
  7. Nov 30, 2016 #6

    mfb

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    Muon mapping of pyramids and similar structures.

    Neutrino astronomy (and also detection of other neutrino sources) is interesting, but I wouldn't call it "engineering application".
     
  8. Dec 1, 2016 #7

    ChrisVer

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    neither high energy ?
     
  9. Dec 1, 2016 #8

    mfb

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    Well that's what the thread is about.
     
  10. Dec 1, 2016 #9

    ZapperZ

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    I don't understand what is meant by "engineering application" in this thread. Is this a narrower scope than just ANY practical application?

    There are many applications of HEP, both direct and indirect.

    Indirect applications:

    • large scale data storage and handling. A HEP experiment produces unbelievably huge amount of data PER SECOND. It pushes the boundary of data handling.
    • Detector technologies. Such advancements in detector technologies have important applications elsewhere, including medical fields. For example, new detector technologies used in neutrino experiments are now being considered in PET scans.

    Direct applications:

    • Use of positrons, protons, and neutrons in medical treatment
    • Use of muons and neutrinos to study the interior of the earth.
    And this still ignores the fact that advancement in knowledge in one sector of physics often affects other sectors of physics, even ones with direct "engineering applications".

    Zz.
     
  11. Dec 3, 2016 #10

    vanhees71

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    Well, in this sense you can say that the very existence of the internet and this forum, the close-to-speed-of-light communication via e-mail etc. is a spin-off of HEP :-).
     
  12. Dec 3, 2016 #11

    mfb

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    I'm quite sure it would have been invented eventually without the HEP-induced invention, but certainly later, and probably commercially - imagining some company getting money for every page that is loaded anywhere in the world.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2017
  13. Jan 12, 2017 #12

    ZapperZ

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    If any of you watched the NOVA episode last night titled "The Nuclear Option" on PBS stations here in the US, you may or may not have missed another application of high energy physics/elementary particle physics. It covered the Los Alamos technique of muon tomography that was able to get an image inside the Fukushima's damaged reactors.

    Things like one of these just doesn't get developed out of nowhere. They came out of our initial understanding of how these elementary particles behave and how they interact, i.e. basic physics research. It is only then that we can come up with practical applications. Every time I see one of these applications, I feel like shouting to everyone that this came out of an area of study where one initially doesn't see practical applications. The public, and especially the politicians, need to be told explicitly about things like this.

    Zz.
     
  14. Jan 14, 2017 #13

    Astronuc

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    I can't think of a practical, engineering application for high energy (in the low to high GeV range), but we do apply high MeV protons on heavy metal targets to produce neutrons by spallation and fission reactions.

    http://www.iaea.org/inis/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/23/015/23015552.pdf

    The article describes high energy as above 20 MeV (low energy is less than 20 MeV), and it mentions 800 MeV protons.

    Fission neutrons from U-235 or Pu-239 have energies in the range for fractions of MeV up to 10 MeV, with a small population from 10 to 20 MeV.

    Nuclear engineering is a multidisciplinary engineering field of which one aspect is applied nuclear/particle physics. In general, an engineer would use the lowest possible energy reaction to achieve his/her goal(s).
     
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