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Nicole Ackerman | SLAC | USA

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SLAC kills millions!

Only in TV land, of course. A show in the US called FlashForward had a recent episode (that I keep meaning to watch but just… can’t… bring myself to do it) where a lab that resembles SLAC in its location and research kills 20 million people via plasma-wakefield acceleration experiments. I was planning on pulling apart the bad information in the episode, but the SLAC communications office has done it for me!.

Is there any way that plasma-wakefield experiments could cause a “flashforward”?
No. Plasma-wakefield acceleration is just an advanced technique to boost particles to high energies, something that particle physicists have been doing for decades. Even the most speculative theories rooted in real physics make no prediction that anything like a flashforward could occur.

“Although we can use particle accelerators to essentially look backward in time to recreate the conditions of the universe soon after the big bang, there is no known way to look into the future,” says Mark Hogan, chief experimental scientist for the plasma wakefield program at SLAC’s FACET.

While I always cringe to see science represented this way, it is nice to see that CERN isn’t the only lab portrayed as apocalyptic! The conversations about particle physics due LHC publicity (good and bad) is a great chance to educate the public, as many of you have done. Hopefully plasma-wakefield gets a bit of (good!) attention after this episode since it has so much potential.

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