The Bevatron particle accelerator (1954)


At the University of California the biggest machine ever built for nuclear research has just begun to tear atoms apart with greater energy than any atom smasher has ever produced. In a vast room protons, the nuclei of hydrogen atomns, are shot from a locomotive-shaped accelerator into a vacuum chamber inside a gigantic hollow magnet. There they are speeded to 184.400 miles a second. When they have attained the fantastic energy of 6.25 BEV (billion electron volts), they can be spun against metal targets, smashing the metal atoms and releasing their nuclear particles. The least known of these particles are mesons, which in free form appear as cosmic rays and in the atom are associated with the energy that binds the nucleus together. Because the machine, called a Bevatron since it gets up into the BEV range, splits atoms with such tremendous power, it will create more types of mesons than ever before possible and will explore the mystery of their function.


images and info provided by the LIFE Magazine / LIFE Magazine International / LIFE Magazine Atlantic ARCHIVE from the Zetu Harrys Collection

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