Revealed: How to build a particle accelerator in a salad bowl

One of the most popular experiments performed during the Workshops on Accelerator Science for teenagers organised by the Quasar Group in Daresbury last year was the “salad bowl accelerator”.  This easy-to-build device employs the electrostatic potential created by a Van de Graaff generator to impulse a metal-coated ping pong ball around the walls of a salad bowl, emulating a real particle accelerator.

Robert Woodman, head of science at Ysgol Bro Gwaun in Wales says: “It’s great fun to build and even more exciting to operate and watch. This would be the perfect way to prepare for a trip to Diamond Light Source in the UK or CERN in Switzerland.”

The Quasar group has now given away the secret of how to build a salad bowl accelerator by publishing the instructions in the latest issue of the journal Science in School. The article includes a brief history of the use and operation of particle accelerators as well as a discussion of the working principles of the salad bowl, the differences and similarities with real accelerators, and a set of questions for students. A video on how to build the accelerator can be found here.

Science in School is the only teaching journal to cover all sciences and target the whole of Europe and beyond. The free quarterly journal is printed in English and distributed across Europe. The website www.scienceinschool.org currently offers articles in more than 30 languages.

The article can be downloaded here.