Accelerators – in physics and cancer therapy

Lecture by Centre Director Søren Pape Møller, Institute for Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University


Scientists use accelerators as a kind of super microscope. The larger the accelerator, the smaller objects we can observe. During this lecture you will witness small experiments performed on stage, illustrating how electric and magnetic forces are exploited in accelerators. From personal experience you will understand why accelerators are becoming larger.

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN, has built the world’s largest particle accelerator in a 27 km-long tunnel near the Alps, 100 m under ground-level. Here the physicists smash protons into each other at very high energy and have thereby found the so-called Higgs particle. What can we learn from this? And are there things we do not yet understand in the world of elementary particles?

The physicists’ research with accelerators has also given rise to practical applications. For example, most of us have a family member who has been treated with radiation therapy at a hospital. Few know, however, that the radiation comes from accelerators. Hear about why these radiation “cannons” today fire with electrons and why radiation therapy with beams consisting of atomic nuclei in some cases is a more effective treatment. Such a gigantic "proton cannon" is under construction in Skejby near Aarhus, and its function and advantages will be described in the lecture.

A completely different practical application of accelerators, which the scientists are currently working on, is an idea for extracting diamonds from diamond mines without needing to pulverise immense amounts of rock.

The lecture takes place:

Thursday 26 October, 2017. Katuaq 'Lille Sal' 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.

The Greenland Institute of Natural Resources and Aarhus University present a new lecture in the series Public Lectures in Natural Science. The lecture is opened by Thomas Juul-Pedersen from the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, and there will be a coffee break halfway through. The lecture in Danish is streamed live from Aarhus University. Admittance is free.

<- Go back

CERN’s superconducting LHC accelerator in the underground, 27 km-long tunnel. The accelerator magnets are ”opened” to make it is possible to see inside the superconducting magnets, which have been cooled down to a few degrees above the absolute zero, −273 ⁰C. The photo shows the two opposite directed proton beams, which may collide at several locations around the accelerator ring. (Photo: CERN)