Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Historic Westinghouse Van de Graaff 'Atom Smasher' At Risk

A smash in the old days, nuclear relic seeks savior


Historic 1937, 5-million-volt Westinghouse Van de Graaff Electrostatic Generator and Particle Accelerator "Atom Smasher," located in the Pittsburgh suburb of Forest Hills. (Photo Sources: Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, )


January 20, 2013 12:07 am
Anybody want a used atom smasher?

The old Westinghouse smasher has stood at the edge of Forest Hills since 1937. It's five stories tall, looks a bit like a silver light bulb with a big W on two sides, and you can glimpse the top of it from Ardmore Boulevard below if you know where to look. (Look up to the east when you're near Vincent's Pizza, but be quick about it. You're supposed to be looking at the road.)

This thing hasn't smashed an atom since 1958, but a Washington developer says he just paid CBS six figures for it and the 11 surrounding acres, the heart of it fenced off with barbed wire. Gary Silversmith, who'd like to see apartments at the site, hasn't any particular use for the nation's first Van de Graaff nuclear generator. So, gentle reader, do you know anyone who does?

"I'd love to save the atom smasher,'' Mr. Silversmith said, "to find either a user who'd use it at the site or find somebody to move it. I haven't had any luck yet.''

This was the maiden testing ground for the industrial application of nuclear physics, the go-to place for bombarding target atoms with a beam of high-energy particles -- but all fame is fleeting.

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Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Special Thanks: Francis G. Graham, Professor Emeritus of Physics, Kent State University.

Van de Graaff Electrostatic Generator Demonstration at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science:
Link >>>

Related Blog Post --

Nuclear Advisory Panel: Shutdown Last U.S. Collider (2013 Jan. 31):

Link >>>


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