Science: Destructive Impulses

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On the grounds of the Carnegie Institution of Washington stands a circular, domed building which looks like a modest astronomical observatory. It houses no telescope but a powerful atom-smasher, one of the two biggest in the world. The other is being readied at East Pittsburgh by Westinghouse Electric. Last week, after years of planning and construction, the Carnegie monster started its first test runs, hurling streams of protons (nuclei of hydrogen atoms) into a quartz plate at 5,000,000 volts.

The Carnegie apparatus stores static electricity on a big electrode inside an inverted pear-shaped steel tank, 55 ft. high— only the big end of which is visible from the exterior (see cut)—discharges its high voltage in direct current. It does not speed its projectiles to such high energies as are obtainable with the "cyclotron," but the Carnegie and Westinghouse researchers claim an advantage for precision measurements in the fact that their voltage is controlled and steady.