1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I want to build a particle accelerator

  1. Oct 11, 2012 #1
    Hi, I'm 15 and I want to build a particle accelerator (probably in my backyard). I don't know much about physics yet, but I'm learning. I realize that this is a long-term project (my estimate is about 2 years), but I really want to do it. I don't just want instructions or anything like that, I want to do experimental research (just for fun) and actually understand everything that I'm doing. What books do you think I should read? I'm reading an intro to basic electricity (I thought it would be helpful, or at the very least, interesting). Recommend as many books as you want (on basic engineering, electromagnetism, particle physics, classical mechanics, etc.), as I said, I'm giving this two years. Also, keep in mind that I don't know much yet, so I'm not sure what kind of accelerator I want to build or anything that specific. I'm also not sure what particles I want to study. Do you have any advice you can give me? Any books I have to read? About how much would it cost? Thanks very much, and if you need me to elaborate on anything, don't hesitate to ask.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    This question comes up here about every month or so, I'd guess --- maybe a bit less often --- and as I recall, always ends in a locked thread because it is MUCH too dangerous an undertaking.
  4. Oct 12, 2012 #3
    I'm not asking for specific instructions on how to do it- I'm asking for help on which books to read and what to research so I can do this safely.
  5. Oct 12, 2012 #4
  6. Oct 12, 2012 #5
    You have to be crazy. It's a nice idea but you won't find any of the materials outside fermi lab and if you do, you'll probably blow up your neighborhood. Also this query should be in the quantum physics or standard model section.
  7. Oct 12, 2012 #6
    And there are almost no book that tell you how to build particle accelerators !
  8. Oct 12, 2012 #7
    You could say I'm a little bit crazy, but I'm also very motivated. I'll make sure to take all the necessary safety precautions (I have OCD), and I think if I try hard enough, I'll be able to find the materials. I'm not sure how I'm going to get enough power, but I'll think about that part later. I'll do as much research as possible, and hopefully people here will be able to help me. The geiger counter idea was great spinnor, I'll definitely try that. And sorry about putting this in the wrong category, I'm kind of new here. I'm not really sure how to move it.
  9. Oct 12, 2012 #8
    I don't want books specifically telling me how to build accelerators, I want to learn about the different types of accelerators, about particles, about some engineering, electromagnetism, and as much as I can that will help me build one. I don't want an instruction manual, I want the tools to be able to make my own instruction manual, so to speak. Actually, now that I think about it, this project will most likely take longer than two years...
  10. Oct 12, 2012 #9
    Perhaps to help you out research the LHC. This is a large multi-national project that had a budget of 7.5 billion euros. Took many many years to build with large numbers of engineers. Now you probably won't want to go that big but to accelerate anything it usually needs to be small (more mass = much more energy to accelerate). Then you have to detect particles.

    Without trying to be mean but the more you understand this 'project' the more you will find that it is quite unrealistic. Even by asking such a question (in such a forum) and the naivety of saying you want to complete it in 2 years shows how little you know.

    Perhaps learning about electronics and build something like a buck converter that relies on simple electrical principles.
  11. Oct 12, 2012 #10
    Yeah, I realize that it may be unrealistic, but I would still like to try. I don't mean to sound stubborn or egotistical (although sometimes I am too much of both), but I really want to do this.
  12. Oct 13, 2012 #11


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Don't mean to be mean or anything, but you'll have to know a lot about quantum physics to know how to use and understand (let alone build) a particle accelerator. I'm 11 and know quite a bit about physics, and I'd have no idea how to build - although I'd probably know roughly how to understand - a particle accelerator.
  13. Oct 13, 2012 #12


    User Avatar
    2017 Award

    Staff: Mentor

    Every CRT tube is a small particle accelerator, and they can be built as hobby project - see this page, for example.

    If we talk about higher energy, radio-frequency acceleration, proton accelerators and so on: Study physics, try to find some group which actually builds particle accelerators, join them.
  14. Oct 13, 2012 #13
    Just to give everyone an update- I know some basic concepts of electricity now, I have a pretty good base in circuits, and now I'm going to read some books on calculus. Also, I'm going to build a high-voltage geiger counter to go a little deeper into particle detection and circuitry. Any more advice or comments?
  15. Oct 14, 2012 #14
    Dude if you want to build a particle accelerator then your gonna have to know a lot on electricity, engineering, mechanics, waves, calculus(absolutely must. Don't use books, check out the khanacademy calc playlist at khanacademy.org, that's where I learnt from what a derivative is to stokes theorem) also you need to know high energy particle physics and a lot of math.
    In my opinion, if you have reached basic electromagnetism and don't know calculus then there's a very very long way to go. But to help you out you might want to check khanacademys math playlist and calculus; MITs classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism and waves courses; quantum physics and relativity and the standard model from stanford universities playlists. After learning all of this you would just need someone to help you out and guide you.
  16. Oct 14, 2012 #15

    Building a real particle accelerator would require a team of expert people....

    you might find this discussion of interest:

    What is a particle:

    Do you know what a vacuum tube is?? That accelerates electrons!!!!
  17. Oct 14, 2012 #16
    you should contact michio kaku. search for his email on bigthink.
  18. Oct 14, 2012 #17
    Crazyneutrino, that was very helpful. I am already watching the khan academy calculus videos, but I want a strong base in calculus so I am reading books as well. I will look for the Stanford and MIT videos that you mentioned. And yes, I do recognize that there's a long way to go, but I am patient, so that's no problem. Naty1, I don't know much, but I definitely know enough to know that a vacuum tube DOES NOT accelerate electrons...
  19. Oct 14, 2012 #18
    I am an undergraduate in electrical engineering, and I am fairly certain that they do..
    (I admire your determination by the way)
  20. Oct 14, 2012 #19
    Really?! Wow. I always thought that vacuum tubes were just to eliminate air resistance and make sure that you were only accelerating certain particles. I thought particles were accelerated by magnetism and electricity... Evidently I barely know anything.
  21. Oct 14, 2012 #20


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    guitarphysics, I recommend that you not post such statements here (or anywhere else, for that matter). You have insulted Naty1 and demonstrated for everyone here your lack of understanding of the basics of electronics/physics.

    I suggest you first click on "Naty1" here and select "view public profile". Then read the "about me" tab and notice that Naty1 has several degrees in Electrical engineering, including a Master's degree. Add to this his other degrees and experiences and then ask yourself this: "Why would Naty1 write "Vacuum tubes accelerate electrons"? The answer is simple: because they do.

    Secondly, I suggest you go to Google search, enter the terms "vacuum tubes" and learn how they work.

    Thirdly, please learn some humility when making comments to other members here. Arrogance and egocentricism are not personality traits that promote the exchange of information. Physics Forums is a place for learning. And, as you said yourself, "I don't know much,..."

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook