The Homemade Particle Accelerator
We recently had the privilege of working with Patrick Stevenson-Keating, a young designer who graduated last year from the University of Dundee.
The first project of his that we came across demonstrates the idea of ‘parallel universes’ using a laser built into a super sleek well designed little desktop device. Called the Quantum Parallelograph, it was inspired by the work of Professor David Deutsch of Oxford University, and the earlier work of Professor Hugh Everett, who argue for infinite copies of ourselves existing within multiple universes.
On his website he explains: ‘The Quantum Parallelograph seeks to reveal to the personal user how such ideas of alternative realities may be envisaged. The device uses online sources to find the “parallel lives” of users, and prints out a short statement about their “simultaneous” life in a parallel world.’
Building on his Quantum Parrallelograph, we challenged him to create a homemade particle accelerator for Milan Design Week with the caveat that it had to fit into a department store.
We originally looked at making a long, linear accelerator, but the glass alone would have broken the budget. Instead, Patrick came up with the altogether more interesting concept of making it out of organically-shaped hand-blown glass bulbs,
which he’d been experimenting with. So it was that we found ourselves in the distinctly low-tech surroundings of a glassworks in Harlow, Essex making the components for a CRT-style particle accelerator one bright spring morning.
A few weeks and more than a few late nights later (by him, not us, I must add) we went round to see how it was coming together and were blown away. Not only was there a working prototype sitting on the table, but Patrick had built a bespoke black control box that visitors could plug things into and push a big button to turn it all on. I think that all-to-often with science communication the importance of design and beauty gets lost, which is what we love about his work.