Friday, June 29, 2012

Tsukuba's KEK

KEK or more properly 'High Energy Accelerator Research Organization' (高エネルギー加速器研究機構 Kō Enerugī Kasōki Kenkyū Kikō), is the largest particle research laboratory in Japan.

They have a nifty particle accelerator which is used by many other research institutes like high energy physics, radiation science, structural biology and many more and of course Tsukuba's own research labs. This is the site of the Tsukuba campus. There is everything from a Proton Factory to the accelerator per se (the large ring you can see on KEK's simulation).

Thanks to P's friend we got a tour around the campus which was tremendously interesting.  Look at these huge quadrupole magnets to focus the beams, so that when beams collide more particles are involved in the collision.

magnets in action:

My favourite part of the KEK, however, was the  'dumping' ring. 'Dumping' is how it is pronounced in Japanese (and even written so on KEK's webpage); and at first I thought 'hey, what are they dumping there? some particle waste?' It took me a while to realize that they actually mean a damping ring. Which made much more sense than a huge circular dumping area :)) (although there actually is a beam dump somewhere; don't ask me for specifics).
A moving charged particle (for example an electron) vibrates to a certain degree. This vibrating energy is converted into electro-magnetic energy and emitted in form of visible or infrared light. This is what is called radiation damping and what is done in the damping ring. The goal is to get a very stable beam, no vibrations whatsoever involved.

This is the damping ring:

Not everything is dead-serious at the KEK facility. They still have some humour left. If I was to be reborn as a particle, I want to be a slepton or maybe a spartacus :)

After all the physics we deserved some lovely vegetable stew at a nice family restaurant with our friend. Yum-yum!

And if this was too much physics today, I hope the next entry will make up for your patience, because we will not only climb a he-mountain, but also a she-mountain.

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