particle accelerator - Computer Definition
An electrical device that generates charged particles, such as electrons, protons and ions, at high energy. So-called "nuclear accelerators" are used to split the atom for scientific research, but most particle accelerators are built for more practical applications. They are used to manufacture myriad products including semiconductors. They are also used as X-ray machines for cancer treatment and for detecting weaknesses in materials. Splitting Atoms The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the European laboratory for nuclear research, is the world's largest particle accelerator. Online in 2008 and costing around USD $6 billion, protons are made to collide into other particles 10 million times per second while making 17-mile laps at nearly the speed of light. One of the main goals of the LHC was to find the Higgs boson, called the "God Particle," considered to be the fundamental element of matter. See Higgs boson. In order to process the data coming from the accelerator, a huge computing grid uses resources from more than 150 institutions around the world. See peer-to-peer computing.