Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rest in Pieces, O Great Smasher of Atoms

Smash it up.

Photo credit: Steve Duncan

Columbia University has decided to junk a 70-year-old atom smasher that is the nation’s oldest artifact of the nuclear era, ending weeks of internal debate and lobbying over its fate.


Covered by dust and graffiti, it weighs 30 tons and stands seven feet tall and 12 feet wide, its giant arms holding aloft a huge electromagnet that once helped guide subatomic particles and split atoms.

Actually, I'm sort of on the fence with this one. Many preservationists want to keep this historical "icon." Its contribution to the atom bomb, in my opinion, makes it about as deserving of presevation as the Berlin Wall.

“It’s an extremely important cultural icon,” David J. Brenner, a medical physicist at Columbia and the chairman of its radiation safety committee, said in an interview. “It represents one of Columbia’s biggest contributions to world history.”

On the other hand, I am open to persuasion. I do have a sentimental side.

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