'Super-microscope' opens at Isis (BBC News)


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'Super-microscope' opens at Isis

By James Morgan
Science reporter, BBC News

The world's newest "super microscope" is fired up and ready to go.

The £200m second target station at Isis in Oxfordshire will allow scientists to see things 10,000 times thinner than a human hair.

The machine is known as a pulsed neutron source. But what does that actually mean?

Well, if you're a physicist curious to see how matter behaves when no-one is looking, then Isis is your private snoop.

If you're an engineer trying to make the hydrogen car a working reality, then Isis is your genie.

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Want to see how spiders spin silk stronger than steel? Or peer into a newborn baby's lungs as they take their first breath?

(1) A beam of protons is fired in by an accelerator. (2) They enter the target station and collide with a tungsten target (3) which radiates neutrons. (4) These are channelled to different experiments (5) where they collide with samples, revealing their properties.

Isis will grant your wishes - and you get more than three. Up to 40 different experiments can run side by side, now that the second target station "Isis 2" is open.

No wonder that physicists from across the globe will be flying in to seek an audience with the oracle, which resides at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

Their areas of interest stretch the breadth of the Universe - from the darkest corners of quantum mechanics, to the supermarket shelf.


Video and full article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7686622.stm


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