Micro Hadron Collider: a Miniature Model Particle Accelerator Made From Trash




It's a micro sized version of the LHC! I built it out of trash such as bottlecaps and scrap wire pieces. It comes with miniature toy physicists, and even has photon radiating action!

Step 1: Materials

Materials: Be creative. For the main body, use whatever items you can find to create a cylindrical shape. You will want to include a small keychain flashlight for "photon radiating action." Also, decorate it with whatever old electronic parts you can find to make it look particle-accelerator-y. I found some bits of wire, ribbon cable, Christmas light bulbs, and metal discs from a hard drive. To attach pieces together, use an adhesive of your choice.

Step 2: Assemble the Collider

I first made holes in bottle caps to accomodate the flashlight. Make sure the light shines through the front. I added the metal discs (which I wrapped with some copper wire for looks) to the front. Adding more bottle caps created a cylindrical shape. I decorated the outside with wire, ribbon cable, and Christmas light bulbs.

Step 3: Stand and Mini Physicists

I built a stand by cutting and bending two mini Altoids tins into a curved shape that the particle accelerator can rest on. I glued these to a sheet of plastic. To make mini physicists, I twisted two bits of wire together into an X shape for the body with arms and legs,then added a drop of hot glue for the head. Mini engineers and interns can be made in a similar manner.



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    6 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    What a very cute project! I like how one of your physicists appears to have been partially melted from the radiation and is stuck to the accelerator support structure :-/

    There's a great picture of the ATLAS detector under construction (see below), which could probably be turned into a cool model. Note the teeny tiny physicist at the bottom of the frame for scale!

    3 replies

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I'd like to try to make a model of the ATLAS detector sometime. I'll look up what it does so that I can replicate a small scale version of its function. (Americium from a smoke detector for real radiation?)


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    The Wikipedia article is a good start. Note that much of the actual detector technology isn't going to scale well to a model (it's big because it has to be big).

    There are a few decent I'bles which document how to build particle detectors of various kinds. Am-241 is a beta source with few MeV electrons, so all you can really use as a detector is a cloud chamber (easy) or wire proportional chamber (hard). Cosmic rays are more energetic (100 MeV to several GeV muons), so you have more choices there.

    Good luck!


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Amp.. Keep up the good work.. Some things to think about. The first "cyclotron" particle accelerator was made with less tech than goes into a phone and was only a few inches across. I've heard of highschoolers who build these low power devices for science fair projects using a lot of elbow grease.

    Please do your safety homework before trying to actually play with real accelerators or anything radioactive. Even small accelerators can give off dangerous amounts of X-rays (so no taking naps on the thing while it's running) and they often use dangerous levels of voltage (no licking). Radioactive material is dangerous if handled improperly for a bunch of reasons E.X. do not eat your sources no matter how tasty they look. Know the dangers so you can protect yourself then go nuts and have some real fun.

    Having built both cloud chambers and Ion chambers they are both pretty easy to construct but I agree with kelseymh that the cloud chamber route is far better eye candy (and they have a couple of fun ibles here to browse). The wire proportional (or any other ion) camber is at best a funny squiggle on an oscilloscope or more often tied directly to a counter (as in most kits). Please do some reading on it because it is the basis of how all Geiger Counters work.

    Dear kelseymh Am-241 is primarily an alpha decay (gives off a Helium atom) at just over 5MeV (although it can spontaneously fission the chances of it are low... eg 10^-12) any beta emissions are from the daughters as it decays down to lead ( http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=Am241+decay+chain ). If you are actually looking for a beta source the easiest would be any "salt substitute" because of the K-40 (same stuff in bananas). 50lb bags of the stuff are used in the field to test the beta resolution of border monitors because it's easy to obtain and we know the energy spectrum exactly.

    I always encourage people to look into the nuclear sciences as it's an intrinsic part of how our universe works and most of the raw info is out there on the web, although the math can get pretty intense. Feel free to hit me up if you want any more info because I do geek out on this stuff pretty hard.


    5 years ago

    now I just need to find out how to put this into my chest.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I suppose you could just make the front part and put a thinner keychain light behind it. You could probably stick it on your chest using the kind of tape and glue they use for movie makeup. I don't recommend duct tape, though. That would hurt.