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accelerator

An accelerator is the thing that’s used to cause something to accelerate. Duh.

People most often associate accelerators with their cars. If you don’t know where the accelerator is on your car, then how the hell have you been driving it all of this time? It’s the gas pedal.

But those aren’t the only accelerators. An accelerator can, for example, also be a chemical that is used to increase the speed of a chemical reaction. Don’t try this at home unless you know what you are doing and have verified that the explosion that might result is covered under your home insurance.

In a similar vein, arson investigations might also refer to accelerators, or more frequently, accelerants. Fire accelerators (accelerants) are anything that is used to speed up the ignition and spread of a fire. Like I said, don’t try this at home unless you know what you are doing. Also, don’t be surprised when the insurance company that provides your fire insurance fights you if you try place a claim after an accelerant was found at a fire scene at your home and you were the only one in the vicinity for days. These types of accelerators/accelerants tend to raise red flags in the minds of claims adjustors.

Then there are particle accelerators. These are really big, really expensive, tubes that are either linear or shaped in a ring. The biggest and most expensive is probably the Large Hadron Collider. It’s control center is near Geneva, Switzerland, but the accelerator extends under the border and over into France.

Pardon me for getting overly technical here, but it can’t be helped. Particle accelerators are designed to accelerate really, really small particles to really, really high speeds and smash them into other really, really small particles that are either just sitting there, or for a really big impact, that have been accelerated to really, really high speeds in the opposite direction through an accelerator.

When the particles collide they have a habit of producing byproducts that are even smaller particles, such as bosons, that scientists can study for the instant they are detectable.

If the accelerator produces a high enough kinetic energy, by this I mean really, really, really, really, … high kinetic energy, it might also produce a miniature black hole that exists for an instant or so. Black holes can be dangerous if they get somewhat big or are left unattended in the presence of children or pets so, as with chemical and fire accelerators, don’t try this at home if you don’t know what you are doing.

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