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I have a feeling that not many members of the club really use the web to gather information.  It is such a pity, but perhaps they have enough encyclopedias at home or in the library.  Recently I was asked to give a talk on particle accelerators to a group of ex-Halton boys.   I started to compose something and who should come along looking over my shoulder but the Chairman, Brian Piner.  He said “Why do that when you can get it all from the web?”.  Well since I spent many years designing, researching and developing things for these devices I was not exactly stuck for things to talk about.  However I took his advice, and spent many happy moments looking up personalities that I had met with over the years. I was quite amazed with what I found.


My star of the show was Wideroe, a Norwegian engineer, whose enterprise in inventing a parallel line device for the acceleration of heavy ions we used at the front end in a machine at Manchester University.  Whilst the RAF was reducing Hamburg to dust and ashes he was constructing Betatrons to use in the Luftwaffe in the hope of exploding bombloads on Lancasters!   The Norwegians put him in prison for a while after the war, and all he had earned from the Germans was taken from him   Later he was a consultant at CERN.


I won’t tell you that I was doing something similar in Great Malvern after the war, aided and abetted by Sir John Cockroft.  We used a 30 MeV electron synchrotron to explode samples from Fort Halstead.  During the process my lab assistant blew a hole in the roof by continuing to stir one of Fort Halstead’s samples.  We survived to tell the tale.


At present my friend Lyn Evans is struggling with the LHC at CERN, they had a conductor failure and lost 6 tonnes of Helium.  The first part of the commissioning went well, they managed to circulate beams in the 27Km ring in both directions, alas the accident stopped progress until the spring of 2009. All this news I learned from the web (which incidentally started at CERN by an Englishman).


We have a wonderful website for the club now, do use it; to help you find it just put sites  in a Google search and follow your nose. If you want to let others share your gems of genius, send them to Lionel, who will decide whether the item can be included. It will also let us know how your state of learning from the club is going!


Frank James