If you ever drop your keys into a river of molten lava, forget em', cause, man, they're gone. –Jack Handey
Question #89042 posted on 03/07/2017 7:49 p.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I heard that BYU has a particle accelerator. Is this true?



Dear Emma,

When we last saw Frère Rubik in Board Question #88908, he had just received the startling news that the particle accelerator he'd been searching for for over a month was, in fact, right beneath his feet! What will he do with this information? Will he ask Dr. [Secret] to show him the accelerator? Will he flee from the scene and begin to construct a rudimentary bomb shelter in Joaquin Park? Will he and Dr. [Secret] suddenly be possessed by the spirit of St. Patrick's Day and break out into Irish Step? Join us now, as we discover the answers to these questions and more in BOARD QUESTION #89042!!!

"It's right underneath us?" I asked, flabbergasted.

Dr. [Secret] nodded.

"Yeah, just down there. I'll show you once I finish these samples."

"Cool!" I said.

I felt a sudden whooshing in the spacetime continuum. 

"Did you feel that?" I asked, looking around.

"Feel what?" replied Dr. [Secret].

"I felt a great whooshing in the spacetime continuum," I said, stroking my scraggly beard, "as if two separate realities in which I build a bunker or do the Riverdance suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced."

Dr. [Secret] finished with his samples and looked up at me quizzically. 

"Never mind," I said, hurriedly, "let's just go check out the accelerator."


So, the particle accelerator (which Dr. [Secret] informed me is called "Little Blue") is located in the depths of the ESC, in this particular room:


Entry requires a code or a key, so unfortunately, unless you know Dr. [Secret] or a similarly-privileged professor, you probably can't go in and see for yourself.

Here is Little Blue's instrument panel, straight out of the 60's (which is when Dr. [Secret] believes the university acquired the accelerator):


(Notice the solid brick wall in the background, which shields the operators from radiation.)

Now, behold Little Blue! First, the thing-a-ma-whatsit:


Then, the which-a-la-whoozit:


Next, the...actually, I'm realizing now that the rest of the pictures I took are super blurry and you can't even really see what I'm trying to take a picture of. Sorry 'bout that (also sorry that I don't know the technical names for the parts I'm showing you; I'm not a particle physicist and what Dr. [Secret] was saying went right over my head).

Having seen the wonders of Little Blue, we turned off the lights, left the room, and went back to our own research project, which involved lots of grunting (from us) and lots of gurgling (from a vacuum pump).


To wrap up, here are a few more facts/tidbits:

-See that yellow-and-purple cord in the bottom left of the picture of the thing-a-ma-whatsit? Apparently that's a universal indicator of "hey don't go past this line or else you're going to get blasted with radiation and I'm pretty sure it's going to give you cancer and not superpowers."

-Back in their heyday, there were tons of little particle accelerators like this in universities across the nation. 

-These small accelerators were mostly used by professors at the university to study low-energy nuclear physics. 

-More recently, Dr. [Secret] said that the accelerator has been used for doing research for Homeland Security projects (exactly what projects, he didn't say).

-"Recently" is relative, though; you probably can't tell from the pictures, but Little Blue is actually not fully hooked up and wired together. Most of the physics problems it's useful for have already been figured out by scientists in the last century. Nowadays, the uncharted territory that researchers are studying is in the realm of high-energy physics, which requires much larger accelerators like the LHC. So, sadly, Little Blue goes mostly unused.


Well, that's everything, Emma! Sorry it took so long to get this answer to you (and an even bigger sorry to "Large Hadron Collider fan" from #88908, who asked me their question about BYU's accelerator in the end of January. Are you two friends?). I hope it was worth the wait!

-Frère Rubik