The Big New Xray Laser At SLAC

The big linear accelerator at SLAC is upgrading.  The interesting thing is that they are using technology that I’m familiar with, the superconducting radiocavity. These cavities were first used at Jefferson Lab in Virginia where I worked for two years.  They actually a very interesting use of extreme cryogenics, high intensity microwaves and exotic materials and mechanical technologies.

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If You Are Any Kind Of Maker, You will Want This

The complete Amateur Scientist on CD-Rom

When I was a kid, Scientific American always had a science project that people could do in their home shops, usually with normal tools and some scrounging.  The quality of these projects was always extremely high.  Scientific American stopped putting those articles out sometime in the 1990’s, here they all are.  There are thousands of pages of useful stuff and projects to fabricate.  This is especially useful for getting info  on obsolete projects and dangerous stuff.

I Suspect That Einstein Would Have Loved This

Quantum entanglement verified by experiment.

The article makes much of how Einstein derided quantum entanglement.  What the Times seems to missed is that it was Einstein who also said that one experiment could prove him wrong.  Which this did.  Which makes for interesting physics, which is after all, the study of the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.

You can make up all the theories you want, but ultimately you have to test the theories against reality.  Which doesn’t care how elegant your math is or how well your theory fits together.  Reality is what is. As a true scientist, Einstein understood that and that’s why he would have loved this experiment.

DOE Reuses Big Magnet

Actually this is fairly common.

If you work in one of the national labs, scrounging and reusing magnets and vacuum chambers becomes second nature.  As well as such things as office furniture and all sorts of other stuff.  The reason is that big magnets and such are expensive and custom made, sometimes for experiments that last a fairly short time.  the assembly has it’s place in the sun and then get torn out for the next experiment.  But that last experiment may have raised questions or somebody might want to try the same thing, but at a different energy level looking for a different particle. So the magnet gets moved from one lab to another and gets a new life ina new role.

Usually they aren’t as large as this one is though.

The lost nuclear fusion reactor design?

The Polywell isn’t “lost.” Just not handled right. Some of us are working to change that.

Watts Up With That?

Robert Bussard, one of the giants of the field, claimed to his dying day he had cracked the problem

Homemade_fusion_reactor[1]Above: a homemade “fusor” similar to the Polywell nuclear fusion reactor

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Not many people have heard of Robert Bussard, but he was one of the giants of nuclear fusion research. But if an engineering solution for viable small, household size nuclear fusion reactors is ever discovered, they will almost certainly be largely based on Bussard’s work.

Bussard’s focus was on a field of Nuclear fusion research known as electrostatic confinement. Unlike the better known magnetic bottle reactors, such as the $20 billion ITER project, electrostatic confinement can be applied to fusion plasmas which are the size of a small glass fish tank.

Electrostatic confinement has been well known since the 1930s. Small electrostatic nuclear fusion devices are sold commercially – as neutron sources. A small…

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The Story Of A Part 1

I drew this part up in 1997 while I was working at Jefferson Lab in Virginia.  It’s a simple part with complicated requirements.  For the  Free Electron Laser we had to transfer very high voltage from the power supply to the electron gun.  In order to do that the EE in charge wanted to use aluminum pipe as the center of the conduit.  He also insisted on using a corona ring as the elbow for the conduit.  This didn’t work out because it’s very difficult to make a welded pressure vessel from aluminum.


Here’s this part welded into the inner conduit.  The issue with this part is that sharp corner around the outside end.  This where I learned that when it comes to high voltages, curves are your friends.   Otherwise BZZZZTT!!! Still in all it was a fun project.