If you've ever wanted a particle accelerator of your very own, there are several options available. You could build yourself a Van de Graaff generator -- or you could build yourself a model version out of Lego -- like the one built by Jason Alleman of JK Brickworks.
It doesn't actually accelerate particles any faster than any normal thing in the normal world accelerates particles -- in short, it ain't no Large Hadron Collider, or even a Small Hadron Collider -- but it's still a really danged cool Lego model.
"This working particle accelerator uses a simple system of spinning wheels to accelerate a Lego ball around a ring. Although the propulsion system is different than that of a real particle accelerator, it's a great way to illustrate the concept," Alleson explained. "Not to mention, it is fun to play with. Multiple balls can be inserted simultaneously and obstacles can be introduced for the ball(s) to collide with."
The particle is actually a Lego soccer ball, accelerated using a set of Lego wheels; one is spun at a high speed using a Lego Power Functions M motor and a simple set of gears, while the other spins freely. When the ball passes between the wheels, is is accelerated out into the ring, with a maximum speed of around 440 studs per second.
"I have tried powering both wheels, and it does make the ball go faster, but the additional gearing introduces more vibration into the system," Alleson said on his website. "Not to mention the ball is already a bit unpredictable at its current high speed. It will occasionally start bouncing around and come flying out. It only runs completely reliably at about half of the maximum speed."
The Lego Particle Accelerator is currently collecting votes on Lego Ideas in the hopes of being turned into an official Lego set. Alleson will also be adding to the project's update section instructions on how to build the model for yourself. Head on over to give it your vote.