Dutch installation lets you "touch" a super collider with sponge balls

Inspired by particle accelerators like the CERN “Large Hadron Collider,” the most powerful of the breed, artist Niklas Roy wanted to make what happens at the highest and most inaccesible levels of sciences available and understandable to all. He writes about particle accelerators:

While their names are already quite incomprehensible, it’s even a greater mystery what happens inside them: Because there’s basically nothing to see. This is a bit counterintuitive, as the purpose of most particle accelerators is the observation of the behavior and nature of particles. The reason for this invisibility-problem is that the particles which those machines accelerate are unfortunately too tiny to be seen with the bare eye.

So Roy created the Pneumatic Sponge Ball Accelerator which contains 1000 black sponge balls and sucks them through 150 meters of piping at about 4 m/s. Visitors can operate the accelerator (something they’d likely not allow you to do at CERN), control the direction of the airflow and watch the balls slow down and speed up.

“Let’s face it, most particle accelerators are toys for just a handful of geeks with very special interests, and far away from entering the mass entertainment market. They are too big and too complicated,” Roy says. While a scientist would surely argue that’s not the purpose of the collider, Roy’s commentary is well-taken. By making something large and abstract palpable for everyone, Roy turns something that one would read about in the news into an afternoon of fun.

Pneumatic Sponge Ball Accelerator will be on view here at the Tschumi Pavillion in Groningen, Netherlands the end of September.

[via Creative Applications]