For almost 80 years, a huge lightbulb-shaped device stood in Forest Hills on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania, United States. Towering 65 feet in the air, the device was the world’s first industrial particle accelerator, and a pioneering laboratory for one of the world’s first large-scale nuclear physics research programs. When it was built in 1937, it was cutting edge technology, capable of shooting high-energy particles at target atoms and allowing scientists to observe the results. Research performed there led to the discovery of photo-fission of uranium and thorium, an important step in the process of generating nuclear power. Today, the complex lies abandoned, and the atom smasher itself lies toppled to the ground.
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