Particle physics is the
study of the building blocks of matter and the forces acting among them. It
tries to find out the fundamental laws that control the make-up of matter in the
The accelerator is the
basic tool of particle physics. It allows us to make particles hit each other at
very high speeds.
A linear accelerator accelerates particles in a straight line: the biggest linear machine SLAC, in Stanford, California, is two miles long. Click on this link to see an animation of SLAC.
Circular machines are more
common like the Fermilab Tevatron in Illinois USA, or the new European LHC at CERN in Switzerland.
Try the accelerator simulator at the foot of the Sixth Form Page (this is based on the old LEP accelerator now dismantled, but the new LHC occupies the same tunnel and principle of operation is much the same).