Thursday, December 29, 2005

Home Brewed Isotopes – Basement Cyclotrons

Apparently, there is an unmet need for at-home nuclear particle accelerators. The Anchorage (Alaska) Daily News says that a man named Al Swank proposes to install a cyclotron in his home. Apparently, he wants to make nuclear isotopes for medical purposes. The neighbors are against it, so it’s controversial.

I don’t know if there’s much radiation associated with cyclotrons or not. If it makes radioactive isotopes, I can understand why they might be concerned.

From the news report: “Swank consults nationally and internationally on cyclotrons, the particle accelerators used to create radioactive isotopes. Swank built his first one as a West High School science student.

He plans to get a used cyclotron from Johns Hopkins University, and said it is due to arrive in April. He wants to use the accelerator to fulfill a medical need but also would like to employ it as a teaching tool for science classes, he said.”

So, young Swank made a cyclotron in high school? That’s pretty cool. Reader Fred Niell sent me a link to his web site. Evidently he made his own cyclotron as well back in 1995 as an entry in the Intel Science Fair.

The list of amateur nuclear particle accelerator builders might be pretty big. A google search turns up this low cost, built from scratch, one at Rutgers University, built by student Tim Koeth.

What do people do with cyclotrons in the basement? That’s a good question. Can you make meaningful quantities of transformed elements (say lead to gold)? What do you do with a electron approaching light speeds?

If you’ve built your own atomic apparatus, let me know what you do with it.


Anonymous said...

I have had plans to build a cyclotron in the past but none of my hacks paned out when I looked in to them (using the 60Hz phase of the eletric uitility to modgulate the coiles for example). My plan was mostly to just have one. I was going to set up a clowd chamber so I could see the electrons but is was more for the novilty of haveing a partical execlreator then any thing.

Anonymous said...

This subject definitly interests me...But mainly confuses me..Whats the point of having one in the basement???