January 26, 2011

TRIUMF and Physics as a household belief system...

My father was an Electronics Technician in the RF group at TRIUMF from 1976 to 1983. His time there was a source of personal and family pride.

When I was a kid, our family went on a couple of tours there with my Dad. When I asked my Dad what he did at work that day, he'd talk about mesons and beamlines, and the Ion Stream Injection System, or being in something called "The Tank".

I didn't understand much of it, but the concepts that I did understand absolutely fascinated me: the scale of things, the smallness of the particles, the speeds of transmission (0.75 the speed of light!), and the worldwide efforts and experiments involved.

When Dad talked about these things, it was like physics suddenly became a dominant belief system in our household, full of questions and answers and the kind of mysteries that excited me in much the same way that I imagine people used to be excited when contemplating how many angels could dance on the head of a pin.

I went back and toured there with my wife a few years ago, and must admit that my feelings of wonder came back again the same as it did when I was eleven.

See Also:
TRIUMF (The Art and Science of Particle Physics) by Dr. Ron Burnett, ECUAD.

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