Sunday, December 19, 2010

Almost overheard in 1954

I was reading through a subset of the current batch of letters and had almost settled on something until I read the following from March 16, 1954:

The radio just announced that the Bevitron has been completed.

My first reaction was "Jeez, that sounds like a bad 50s science fiction device". Then I looked it up and what it actually was was the Bevatron...specifically designed to accelerate protons to sufficient energy to create antiprotons, and verify the particle-antiparticle symmetry of nature, then only strongly suspected. The antiproton was indeed discovered there in 1955, and resulted in the 1959 Nobel Prize in physics for Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain. Basically, it was the ancestor of our very own Large Hadron Collider.

And, what was the reaction of the average person in the street? Apparently, pretty much the same reaction as people had to the LHC: OMG, something awful will happen.

Undoubtedly it can bring much potential knowledge, but all it makes me think of is now they'll build bigger and better bombs.

It's such a cliché, but really it's true. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

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