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Published on Dec 10, 2010
This device demonstrates some of the functions of a particle accelerator.
The particle in this case is a ping pong ball coated with conductive paint. The copper foil electrodes are fed by a 15KV DC power supply. The acrylic bowl (actually a custom-made shape) keeps the ball moving repeatedly over the electrodes and serves the same function as the magnets in a "real" accelerator.
When the voltage is first turned on, the ball touches the electrodes in the center and therefore acquires the same charge polarity, so it is repelled from that strip and attracted to one of the other opposite polarity strips. Once the ball contacts this other strip however, it gets charged in the other polarity so it's repelled by that strip and attracted to the next one and the process repeats. The ball rides up the side as the speed increases, until the accelerating force is balanced by air resistance.
In a "real" accelerator the particle keeps the same polarity of course, and the electrode polarity is flipped in time with the passage of the particles. This concept was developed by Dr. A.D Moore in the 1960's. This device is merely an updated refinement of his very clever work.
(Built in ~2007 and should have been uploaded a long time ago!)