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Magical Particle Accelerator

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

The newest Phlebotinum du Jour — 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 
  • The "Saturn Ring" system in Darker than Black is an accelerator on the scale of Real Life colliders. It is 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 is some commotion when the news about this leakes out, of course. Note that the tunnels around the storage ring are evacuated — as far as people for 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 comical 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 features a particle accelerator that gets 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 plays a major role in Project Gaia, a failed attempt to solve Earth's energy or pollution problems or something like that. Magic is 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 Battle Angel Alita: Last Order is built from Applied Phlebotinum, but among all of these it includes a particle accelerator built into the ring orbiting Jupiter. The heroine, who manages to get a full access to it, uses 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 be one of the earliest examples. Dr. Manhattan gains his powers from being caught in a particle physics experiment, even though the terminology used is very different Technobabble from what you'd get from a modern example.
  • In Atomic Robo, Dr. Dinosaur blames the Large Hadron Collider for firing energies back in time and killing the dinosaurs (except for himself, who gained super-intelligence). Of course, Dr. Dinosaur is an idiot. (But that doesn't necessarily mean he's wrong...)
    • In a Free Comic Book Day issue, an LHC test caused a problem that could rupture causality, and Robo and Dr. Dinosaur team up to fix it. Unfortunately, it was all a ruse by Dr. Dinosaur in order to sic a cyborg Tyrannosaurus on Robo. Robo and his team use the LHC to defeat it, reasoning that it's "a twenty-seven kilometer long proton cannon."
  • The Freshmen comic book series is about a particle accelerator giving a bunch of college students superpowers based on what they were thinking of when it activated. A vegan gains the ability to talk to plants, a codependent couple gains telekinesis but only when touching, a boy distressed over his Teeny Weenie gains an indestructible penis that's several feet long. The scientist that activated the device gains the ability to empower others, and wants to reactivate it with a wider scale.
  • The first New 52 Detective Comics storyline featured a Wayne Enterprises scientist named Hugh Marder who'd built an exact duplicate of the LHC, which he uses to create clones of himself in an attempt to cure his genetic disorder. One of the clones became a Dr Phospherus type called Mr Toxic. Also, the exact duplicate of the LHC fits in Marder's office in the middle of Wayne Tower, and Lucius Fox thinks the purpose of the LHC is "to create a black hole".

    Films — Live-Action 
  • G.I. 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 nano-weapons.
  • 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 is 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.
  • In J.R. Rain's The Accidental Superheroine, Mira, Giancarlo, and Orlov are given "quantum" superpowers involving matter manipulation due to an incident at the CERN with the Super-Collider (which turns out to be not so much of an accident).
  • 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 Lab Accident that involved, among other things, an irrational particle accelerator.
  • Zeus Is Dead 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.
  • An experiment with a particle accelerator kicks off the action in Brian Keene's The Rising. Somehow it opens an inter dimensional rift, allowing demons to come through and occupy the bodies of the dead, leading to a global zombie apocalypse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This type of device is used in The X-Files episode "Soft Light", giving a guy a literal killer shadow.
  • Warehouse 13: H. G. 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 this setting.
  • One of these 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 that 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 Flash (2014), 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 released "anti-matter, dark energy, X-elements" into the 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.
  • Tales from the Loop: The titular "Loop" is the world's largest particle accelerator, located in Sweden (and its 'sister' located in Boulder City, Nevada), which has turned the cities surrounding it into Eerie, Indiana-esque Weirdness Magnet sites (this comparison is deliberate by the design — the game takes a lot of inspiration from kids' adventure stories from The '80s).

    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 Chronicles 1, the universe the characters live in was created in 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 that 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.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3:
  • A particle accelerator is used to create a gravitational singularity or a tesla in Space Station 13, depending on what is aimed at.
  • Homeworld: Most energy weapons in the series are a weaponised variant of this trope. The first version the player's faction can build is a spinal-mounted linear accelerator that takes up a whole frigate hull and is something of a Glass Cannon, but destroyers and cruisers can carry turreted versions. The player faction in Cataclysm go a rather different direction with their ion cannon frigate, which uses a closed-loop accelerator with five apertures leading to arrays of powerful electromagnets that act as turrets, resulting in individually weaker but much more rapid-fire particle beams and a very effective anti-starfighter vessel.


    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.
  • In the episode "The Two Hundred" on American Dad!, Roger splits into 200 of his personas and causes an apocalyptic explosion after stepping into a particle accelerator for his Ray Bans. The rest of the episode is In Medias Res of the fallout.

    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.
  • 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.