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Volume 2, Issue 3, September 30, 2007
particle accelerator
Editor's Corner:
My Mind's Eye
by Lesley L. Smith

        In the particle-accelerator control room, I was trying to keep careful watch on the beam energy since we were at unprecedented high levels. Unfortunately, keeping watch was becoming more and more challenging as my cataracts progressed. Out of the corner of my eye however, I saw something move in the off-limits detector area. There was a floating iridescent squished sphere that disappeared, and then there was a floating iridescent torus which had also promptly disappeared. "What the hell?" We were looking for new particles but they were supposed to stay inside the detector--not fly around outside it.
        Quickly, I slapped down the big red emergency Off button and spilled the coffee in front of me. "Good one, Louis," I muttered.
        While I was looking for something to mop up the mess, the phone rang. It was Pierre, the night shift manager. "Why are the proton and antiproton beams off?" he demanded.
        I wasn't sure what to say. I was still trying to keep my vision problems from him; he'd take me out of the rotation if he knew. But I'd definitely seen something. I knew cataracts didn't make you see stuff that wasn't there--they kept you from seeing what was right in front of your face. While I was thinking, I wiped the coffee spill up with my sleeve.
        "Louis? Answer me. Thanks to you, we're going to lose detector data."
        I pictured persnickety Pierre's moustache twitching like a mouse's whiskers. I took a deep breath. "Something moved in the detector area."
        "That's not possible. The beam will not start unless the detector area is evacuated. And if it was a person, the radiation would kill him immediately--he wouldn't have time to move around."
        "I know that," I said. "I've been doing high-energy physics since before you were a twinkle in your daddy's eye."
        "Tell me exactly what you saw, old man," he growled.
       Old man? I bet I could still whip his scrawny ass. "I'm telling you, there was something moving in the off-limits area."

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