Magical Particle Accelerator

"OK, so there may be like a dozen ways the LHC can destroy the universe, but seriously, time travel?"

The newest Phlebotinum du JourI Love Nuclear Power for The Noughties/The New '10s/Whatever The Hell This Decade Is Called. Presumably thanks to the massive publicity surrounding the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), particle accelerators have become the latest science thingy that can do anything. Note that this usually involves visible beams and massive tunnels that people can stand next to or even inside without suffering unpleasantness such as suffocation, freezing, boiling, electrocution or dying of radiation poisoning shortly after.


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  • An advert for the Gillete Fusion razor has scientists making razor blades with some sort of bizarre particle accelerator/fusion reactor thingummybob.

    Anime & Manga 
  • "Saturn Ring" system in Darker Than Black was an accelerator on the scale of Real Life colliders. It was supposed to destroy Gates along with everything and everyone linked to them. Or at least one quite competent Mad Scientist is quite sure it should, anyway. There was some commotion when the news about this leaked out, of course. Note that the tunnels around the storage ring are evacuated — as far as people on whom "workplace safety" extends are concerned. And that the damaged tube looks like it's under some heavy fire even when no one hits it anymore.
  • The plot in Steins;Gate is based around the idea that the Large Haldron Collider successfully generated kerr black holes that could be used for the purposes of time travel.
    In a comically twist, the type of time travel the main cast uses, which only sends back small quantities of data, requires a much smaller particle accelerator. A CRT monitor in the room below them has to be on, thus why they were only able to activate it at certain times in the day.
  • While the actual LHC and similar devices are nowhere in sight, Tsutomu Nihei's Knights of Sidonia has most of the Applied Phlebotinum fueled by Higgs Bosons and the Humongous Mecha can perform power boosting combination maneuvers by linking arms together to form a ring, invoking the shape of a toroidal accelerator.
  • GaoGaiGar featured a particle accelerator that got turned into a dragon-like monster by the Zondars. It and its creator later play a major role in defeating the Big Bad.
  • Silent Möbius has a giant particle accelerator underneath Tokyo that played a major role in Project Gaia, a failed attempt to solve Earth's energy or pollution problems or something like that. Magic was also involved in the project.
  • A large-scale particle accelerator in Texas is the focus of a couple episodes of Tekkaman Blade, where it was used to produce ammunition for the Fermion Cannon needed to fight the Radam. It's likely based on the Superconducting Super Collider that was canceled shortly after the series was produced.
  • Most of the Wormhole Reactor in GUNNM: Last Order was built from Handwavium, but among all of these it includes a particle accelerator built into the ring orbiting Jupiter. The heroine, who managed to get a full access to it, used its output to Power-Up the Don Fua's black-hole-generating punch.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Punisher 2099, the new Punisher uses a sort of Particle Accelerator to "kill" the soul of a criminal that obtained immortality via reincarnation. Possibly the poster definition of "overkilling".
  • Transformers Generation 2 Redux takes place in the actual Large Hadron Collider, where the Decepticons plan on using it to somehow activate a new energy source they've found and grant themselves new abilities. It works... a little too well.
  • Watchmen may have been the first example. Dr. Manhattan gains his powers from being caught in a particle physics experiment, even though the terminology used is very different Techno Babble from what you'd get from a modern example.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • GI Joe The Rise Of Cobra has a No Hadron Colliders Were Harmed version of the LHC, close enough to Paris that the Eiffel Tower is clearly visible. It's also apparently owned and run by a single rich, snooty man and, once he's taken hostage, Cobra is free to use it to activate their stolen nanoweapons.
  • Iron Man 2 has Tony Stark create a new element by building a particle accelerator in his workshop. Wow.
  • Ghostbusters (1984) has portable versions. It's possible to build such a device but they wouldn't act like the ones shown.
    Peter Venkman: Why worry? Each of us is wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on our back.
  • A particle accelerator firing causes time to repeat in a "Groundhog Day" Loop for a man in the made-for-TV movie, 12:01. He's aware of the looping of time because he was electrocuted by his alarm clock at exactly the time the particle accelerator fired off the first time, making him able to defeat one Phlebotinum du Jour with a much older one.

  • The plot of Volume 19 of A Certain Magical Index kicks off when terrorists steal the controls to a gigantic Particle Accelerator hidden underneath Academy City and threaten to use it to blow up a huge chunk of the city if their demands are not met.
  • Angels & Demons features an accelerator at CERN being used to produce enough antimatter to blow up the Vatican (CERN does really produce antimatter, but only a tiny fraction of that amount).
  • In the novel Flashforward, firing the LHC at the exact moment a neutron star erupts starts the plot's Timey Wimequake.
  • Not exactly this trope, but Discworld has a very literal example, with a machine designed to split the smallest known particle of magic, the thaum.
  • In Life, the Universe and Everything, Wowbagger's immortality is attributed to a freak accident that involved, among other things, an irrational particle accelerator.
  • Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure features the CERN LHC as part of a long-range contingency plan by Zeus to create new gods in concert with his own power, some space rocks, and some "really good fudge."
  • In Harry Harrison's Star Smashers Of The Galaxy Rangers, the protagonists experiment with a homemade particle accelerator, and one of them plays a joke on the other by putting in a piece of cheddar instead of a test mineral into the target slot. After being hit with the particle beam, the cheese turns into a strange-looking rock that turns out to have amazing properties. When exposed to certain energies, the "cheddite" teleports the target object a certain distance away (depending on the amount of energy applied) by shunting it through a tiny parallel universe.
  • An incident in Vasili Golovachov's novel Special Control involves a deep-space lab experimenting with a high-powered particle accelerator, when an old secret military satellite passes by. The satellite launches missiles at the lab and destroys it at the moment the two antiproton particle beams are firing. The beams end up not hitting their target and escape into space. One goes off towards the Triangulum constellation, and the other towards a habitable zone on Mars. Luckily, FTL communications and sensors allow humans to head off the beam and set up a "net" to catch it before it hits the planet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This type of device was used in The X-Files episode "Soft Light", giving a guy a literal killer shadow.
  • Warehouse 13 HG Wells steals antimatter from the CERN facility to power the Imperceptor vest to break into the Escher Vault and steal cosmetics. Oh, and the plan to a death ray.
  • Though never actually explained, the brief view on approach to Terra Nova's Hope Plaza include a pair of massive circular structures, probably intended to be particle-accelerator components. Presumably this means that achieving Time Travel requires a Magical Particle Accelerator in that Verse.
  • One sets up most of the plot of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "Repairs". The team believe that an accelerator explosion gave Hanna, a safety inspector working at the facility, telekinetic powers. It turns out that the accelerator was being used in an attempt to recreate the rifts from Thor: The Dark World and another employee, Tobias, got caught in one such rift created during the explosion. Tobias is now constantly moving between worlds, turning him into a pseudo ghost, and he is "haunting" Hanna.
  • The Outer Limits (1963): In the episode "Production and Decay of Strange Particles", an accident allows humans to get access to a subspace of sorts by concentrating two particle accelerator beams in a single point.
  • An episode of The Outer Limits (1995) has the same method used to accidentally discover a Subspace or Hyperspace, which appears to allow shortcuts through space. Except said "shortcut" is actually the bloodstream of a living universe that starts to fight off the invaders like any immune system would.
  • An episode of The Invisible Man has Darien start seeing a female "ghost" when going invisible or coating his eyes in Quicksilver. It turns out she was a scientist working at a lab who was murdered by her coworker, who trapped her inside a particle accelerator and turned it on. Somehow, her consciousness managed to keep together, and she is able to affect the physical world to an extent. At the end of the episode, she repays her killer by doing the same thing to him.
  • In the 2014 version of The Flash, Barry, as well as a number of other meta-humans, get their powers as a result of the particle accelerator explosion at S.T.A.R. Labs. The lightning that strikes Barry comes from a storm caused by the explosion. According to Dr. Wells, the explosion releases "anti-matter, dark energy, X-elements" into our world with unknown effects. A later episode reveals that Eobard Thawne, AKA the Reverse-Flash, has traveled back in time and got stuck there. In order to find his way back to the future, he killed the real Dr. Wells and took on his appearance in order to build the particle accelerator half a decade earlier in order to ensure that Barry would get his powers earlier than in the original timeline, allowing "Wells" to train him and, eventually, tap into Barry's connection to the Speed Force.

  • The Torchwood radio play "Lost Souls", written to celebrate the launch of the LHC, has an alien soul-stealer living in the tunnels of the Collider, let in by a rip in the universe caused by the accelerator. Reversing the polarity of the beams conveniently destroys the beast and reveals the Higgs Boson. The monster is a definite case of Artistic License - Physics. It steals all your neutrons!

    Tabletop Games 
  • The apocalypse in the 6th edition of Gamma World was caused by the LHC. It made a bunch of alternate universes converge into one, most of them where the Cold War went nuclear. It also conveniently allowed the writers to include everything from the previous editions.

    Video Games 
  • Writing in "LHC" (or "SCIENCE") in Scribblenauts is one of several ways of killing everyone on the screen. Including yourself.
  • In Another World, Lester gets transported to the titular other world when lightning strikes the particle accelerator while he's running an experiment.
  • In Xenoblade the universe the characters live in was created by a physics experiment Gone Horribly Wrong involving a gigantic toroidal accelerator built into an artificial ring around the Earth. This had the unfortunate side effect of blowing up the old universe, killing everybody in it except for two of the scientists working on the experiment and turning them into gods so they could start up a new one.
  • In Mass Effect 3, a minor side planet had a particle accelerator wrapped in orbit around the entire planet for experimental use, but the Reapers went out of their way to destroy it. It's unclear whether they were worried about what people might discover from using it, or just over the fact that it wouldn't have taken much effort to turn it into a really big gun.
  • In Shin Megami Tensei IV, the Yamato Perpetual Reactor was originally built to study black holes. It also creates portals to other worlds, allowing demons and so-called "angels" to enter, and its true purpose is to create a black hole that will consume all of creation - all it takes is a push from a willing player character.
  • Parodied In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, where the Allies have a Particle Accelerator as their Superweapon. They use it as a giant gun, but considering some of the other weapons in the setting, it's obviously a subtle crack at the LHC debacle.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • On Futurama, Professor Farnsworth buys a super collider from Pi-kea.
    Prof. Farnsworth: Bad news nobody. The Super Collider's Super Exploded. I need you to take it back to trade it in for a wobbly CD rack and some of those rancid meatballs.

    Real Life 
  • In what is arguably the closest anyone has ever come to actually being killed by a real-life particle beam, a Russian named Anatoli Bugorsky stuck his head in the proton stream of a particle accelerator while performing some maintenance work. He reportedly saw a flash "brighter than a thousand suns". Amazingly, he survived (though it wasn't pretty). The other wiki has an article about it.
    • Good thing he didn't stick his head in the antiproton stream.
      • Once you push something to ~90% of the speed of light, it'll release a pretty similar amount of boom regardless of whether it is antimatter or not, because of the sheer amount of kinetic energy it possesses. The U-70 synchrotron could push a proton to 99.99% of the speed of light. Switching to antimatter would be a rounding error on the collision energies at that point; it would have made no difference.
  • Some gems have unusual colors not because of minor chemical contamination but because of structural changes due to radiation exposure— for one, green diamonds. They are either found in places where it was subjected to lots of penetrating radiation over centuries, or made by affecting a normal gem with the same... really quickly.
  • Another decorative application of high-energy beams: Lichtenberg figures. Like with gems, photo can't show all the beauty of mica-like light reflections in the fine 3D structure, though demonstrates the principle.
  • Remember those old televisions? They run on cathode tubes, which are technically particle accelerators that accelerate electrons to somewhere between twenty and thirty percent of the speed-of-light.
  • Particle accelerators also have the interesting ability to create elements from other elements. Despite the massive energy requirements, they can be used to transform mundane elements such as Lead into Gold.