Particle Clicker is a simple and addictive click-based game developed by undergrads at CERN Webfest. You are cast as the head of a particle accelerator lab striving to make breakthroughs in physics, without all the grant writing and begging governments for money.
In addition to being aesthetically pleasing – I particularly enjoyed the smashed particle paths when you click on the detector, it is full of information about the physics phenomena you are investigating and humor about the research process.
In its current iteration, the gameplay can get repetitive, but it is well worth at least one play through, if only to read all the information boxes. Also, once you have accumulated enough competent staff, you can simply sit back and let the data accumulate while you enjoy the easy life of a high-profile PI1.
1. According to reports, this is only an easy life by the standards of graduate students and post-docs with no hopes of advancement on their traditional career path.
There’s more to do with a particle accelerator than find the Higgs Boson. Artist Todd Johnson uses electron beams to create amazing fractal artworks on acrylic slabs . He calls them “shockfossils”. Johnson described the process briefly on DeviantArt:
“These pieces are created with the help of a particle accelerator. This machine produces up to five million volts and is used to accelerate a beam of electrons. The electrons are fired at pieces of acrylic plastic and penetrate deep within the slabs, resulting in a pool of electrons trapped under tremendous electrical potential within each piece.
The trapped charge is then carefully released by applying mechanical shock with a sharp insulated tool, and the electrons escape with a bright flash and loud pop. As the charges leave the plastic, they gather into channels following fractal branching rules just like river deltas, plants, and capillaries.
Controlling the energy and placement of the electron beam determines the final shape and character of the resulting figure.”
More information on the process and lots more art here. It’s worth looking at the larger images for the amazing detail. (H/T to Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing)