Why are cyclotrons dangerous

I have posted on this site before asking how to build a cyclotron and have been met with the same response over and over; they are very dangerous. I agree and have given up on the project (at least for a while) and would like to know why they are dangerous. Please tell me.
 

Pengwuino

Gold Member
4,848
10
Cyclotrons produce radiation such as x-rays. Particle accelerators must be properly shielded and this is certainly not the kind of task someone who doesn't know the basics about accelerator physics should attempt to undertake.
 

Astronuc

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
18,491
1,611
I have posted on this site before asking how to build a cyclotron and have been met with the same response over and over; they are very dangerous. I agree and have given up on the project (at least for a while) and would like to know why they are dangerous. Please tell me.
High voltage is one danger, cyclotron radiation another, and if one manages particles in the keV or MeV range, then ionizing radiation is yet another danger. Proper design and shielding are necessary when working with radiation and high energy particles.
 
102
1
There is also the issue of mechanical safety, since cyclotrons generally require a high vacuum to function. The equipment used to create vacuums are dangerous, as well as pulling a vaccum with inadequate materials could lead to violent implosion.
 
Where would the high voltage danger come from? Not denying it, just curious.
 

Bobbywhy

Gold Member
1,714
45
beatlemaniacj, you have received credible warnings about the dangers of constructing your own cyclotron. Others have built them, but only with supervision of professors and/or engineers. The cost would be HIGH, the time would be maybe measured in years, and your results may be disappointing. If your interest is persistent, try to visit one.

Have you tried to Google “cyclotron construction plans”? I got lots of hits.

Have you seen this from Scientific American's Amateur Scientist: "Cyclotron, 1953 Sep, pg 154"? at: http://amasci.com/amateur/sciamdx.html#52-CC
 
The Warnings Are Credible, and I will heed them. But I have also received credible information (i.e. a Scientist, who as a high school student who did build on of the these machines) about relatively easy safety precautions. But I do plan to reconsider my idea. Maybe try to build a Cathode Ray Tube, or another project.
 
1,674
3
A cathode ray tube is safer. If you keep the voltage below 10kv you probably won't make x-rays. You still need a vacuum and have to worry about glass implosion.

You seem bent on some vacuum-particle experiments. Let me suggest some much safer ones. For a few thousand dollars you can buy a small glass bell-jar vacuum system. These have steel cages to protect people in case of implosion. You can take low-voltage lamps like 12-volt filament bulbs and break them open. You can use these in the vacuum chamber as thermionic electron sources. With a setup like this you can construct free-electron diodes, triodes, and even pentodes and measure their transfer functions (voltage vs current relationships). You can do all this safely at low voltages and still do some really impressive physics.
 
Oddly enough I'm not truly afraid of x rays. Distance and concrete work as pretty good shields. And even in the cyclotron from the people I talked to, they seemed to be the only danger. Cyclotron radiation would not be an extreme danger because of the size of the machine plus I'm using pure protons as projectiles which obviously have a much smaller mass than an ion of a heavy atom. Daughter radiation also won't be a problem seeing as not much will be generated. Also im using a high proton cross section target. But I am still reconsidering my project. Those were all some observations I made and some bits of info I received. I am seriously reconsidering my cyclotron
 
Last edited:

DaveC426913

Gold Member
17,892
1,544
Great but we can't help you. It's a liability thing.

We are aware that you are not competent embark on this project and that means any advice or information we offer can make us liable if you (or someone else) gets injured.

Or simply breaks the law.

I haven't looked into it, but it is entirely probable that what you are doing is illegal without the proper permits. Flip over any electronic device and you will see an FCC sticker that shows the device has passed strict radiation and radio frequency emissions standards. This is strictly controlled. Building a device of your own, it is very possible to bring the Feds down on your head and put you in jail for violation.
 
I am component enough to build this machine. The questions I ask might seem odd, but mostly I asked them for reasons other then my personal knowledge. The legalities is a reason why I am reconsidering.
 
I also asked these questions, because my parents wanted to know.
 

HallsofIvy

Science Advisor
41,625
823
I am component enough to build this machine. The questions I ask might seem odd, but mostly I asked them for reasons other then my personal knowledge. The legalities is a reason why I am reconsidering.
I hope you mean you are competent enough. I have heard of machines having components but never of components having machines!:tongue:
 
Curse You Auto Correct!! The Downside to having big fingers and an iPhone. :smile:
 

Vanadium 50

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
22,601
4,880
I am component enough to build this machine.
No, you are not. All you can do is get you or someone else injured or worse.

You're hijacking your own thread. A thread on the risks and dangerous of a cyclotron is something appropriate here. An argument that you know enough to build and operate one safely is not. It's also patently ridiculous: "I'm not truly afraid of x rays" indeed.

If this thread doesn't get back on topic, it will be closed.
 
Again I am not and will never build a cyclotron.
 

berkeman

Mentor
54,779
5,032
Again I am not and will never build a cyclotron.
Can you think of some other interesting projects that you might like to build? Projects don't have to be dangerous to be interesting. It's good that you are naturally curious and want to build some hands-on projects.
 

Physics Forums Values

We Value Quality
• Topics based on mainstream science
• Proper English grammar and spelling
We Value Civility
• Positive and compassionate attitudes
• Patience while debating
We Value Productivity
• Disciplined to remain on-topic
• Recognition of own weaknesses
• Solo and co-op problem solving
Top