• John
  • Felde
  • University of Maryland
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • USLHC
  • USLHC
  • USA

  • James
  • Doherty
  • Open University
  • United Kingdom

Latest Posts

  • Andrea
  • Signori
  • Nikhef
  • Netherlands

Latest Posts

  • CERN
  • Geneva
  • Switzerland

Latest Posts

  • Aidan
  • Randle-Conde
  • Université Libre de Bruxelles
  • Belgium

Latest Posts

  • TRIUMF
  • Vancouver, BC
  • Canada

Latest Posts

  • Laura
  • Gladstone
  • MIT
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Steven
  • Goldfarb
  • University of Michigan

Latest Posts

  • Fermilab
  • Batavia, IL
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Seth
  • Zenz
  • Imperial College London
  • UK

Latest Posts

  • Nhan
  • Tran
  • Fermilab
  • USA

Latest Posts

  • Alex
  • Millar
  • University of Melbourne
  • Australia

Latest Posts

  • Ken
  • Bloom
  • USLHC
  • USA

Latest Posts

Mike Anderson | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

Radiation Exposure

Screen shot 2010-01-14 at 3.55.45 PM

My foray into particle physics began with a summer at the linear accelerator at Stanford in California. It’s the longest accelerator in the world, which makes it easy to find on google maps.  (I also must say that during my time there, the weather there was consistently perfect.)

Warning 01 Aug-3-2005

A welcome sign at the Stanford Linear Accelerator.

One of the first signs you see when you enter the site has a somewhat disconcerting message about chemicals and cancer.

I don’t know what chemicals they were referring to exactly, but one safety topic I learned about when I began taking SLAC’s mandatory safety training courses was related to radiation exposure.

In these safety courses I quickly learned that frequent fliers and airline employees are exposed to far more radiation than any employee at SLAC.

I hadn’t thought about it before then, but it turns out that being at high altitude exposes one to high energy particles produced when even higher-energy particles from sources elsewhere in the universe collide with particles in Earth’s atmosphere.  Being lower to the ground provides more protection than being high up where there is less atmosphere to absorb the radiation.

“A single, long international flight will expose you to a week’s worth of natural background radiation.” (Air & Space Magazine).  But that’s still well below recommended yearly exposure limits.

So in the end, I learned that particle physicists should be more concerned about the radiation they’re exposed to while traveling to their experiment!

Share