Fun & Games Science Technology
Toy train used to calibrate fusion reactor

While Princeton University’s National Spherical Torus Experiment was shut down for improvements over the winter break, scientists and engineers availed themselves of the opportunity to recalibrate the reactor’s neutron sensors. To do so, they assembled a circular toy train track around the torus and ran a toy locomotive carrying a chunk of neutron-emitting californium-252 along it for three days. The New York Times explains:

A stationary neutron source was previously used for the calibration, but that did not fully capture how the neutrons bounced around. Putting the californium on the moving train improved the accuracy by about a factor of 10, Dr. Ono said.

[Thanks, Pete!]


I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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