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2 definitions found
 for particle accelerator
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Particle accelerator \Par"ti*cle ac*cel"er*a*tor\, n. (Physics)
     A large and expensive scientific instrument used by
     physicists to accelerate elementary particles (such as
     protons or electrons) to speeds near that of light, for the
     purpose of investigating the fundamental properties of
     matter; sometimes also called an atom smasher, since the
     particles thus accelerated are often directed at targets of
     atoms which are fragmented by the impact into their more
     fundamental component particles.
  
     Note: The particles generated by impact of a beam in an
           accelerator on its target are detected by various types
           of detecting apparatus, and procedures are required to
           sort and identify the many particles created. The
           fundamental particles generated by impacts in a
           particle accelerator are often those not actually
           present inside atoms; and in certain types of particle
           accelerator, such as the colliding beam accelerator,
           the impact which generates energetic particles is with
           other fundamental particles, and not with atoms.
           [PJC]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

  particle accelerator
      n 1: a scientific instrument that increases the kinetic energy
           of charged particles [syn: accelerator, particle
           accelerator, atom smasher]

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