SLAC – Longest Linear Accelerator

SLAC

Looking down the hall of the 2 mile long straight building at Stanford’s linear accelerator. Straight, not level. The guide said if it was level it would follow the Earth’s curve and at 2 miles long it would then be about 12 inches off of straight at the end. This building was designed to be straight because a couple of stories below ground, under this support equipment that the building is housing, is a long tube that is designed to accelerate particles very near the speed of light. And those particles go straight. You don’t get too many opportunities to look down so perfect an example of a diminishing perspective through distance.

SLAC

This is the outside of the building, looking down the exact same stretch as seen in the inside photo above it. You can see highway 280 going over the linear accelerator as a bridge not too far ahead in the photo.

SLAC

Our tour guide took us to a newer building added down the end of the accelerator where x-rays generated by the accelerated particles are used for modern research. The accelerator was running throughout this whole visit, and does so through most hours of most days of the year. And so, behind the tour guide in the above photo, here a few stories under ground, x-rays are flying through the labs in a horizontal tube that I pointed out with the added blue arrow. These x-rays are used in the various experiments going on in the numerous rooms of SLAC.

There is something wonderful about humans working together on huge ambitious projects to advance our understanding of the universe. And it is pretty great to get to look at these projects and to consider what they do and how they do it.

SLAC

Coming back up to the surface, surrounded by California.

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