A scintillator is a material which luminesces when impacted by ionising radiation. This this occurs through the expected process of excitation and then relaxing of atoms which in this case produces visible photons. Scintillator plates are often connected to charge coupled devices (CCDs) in order to be able to get visual imaging of radiation in real time. There are many occasions when having this information would be useful. The kind of particle and its location in the image will reveal the distribution of isotopes in a sample; it can help detect possibly dangerous leaks in the machines of a nuclear facility; and there will always be applications for these things found in research conditions.
It is the traditional super villain plan to try to blow something up with a laser, whether that be the moon, the hero or a bank wall, lasers as tools of destruction are often seen in our media. The fact is, scientists are people too. Ever since lasers were first invented experiments have been performed to see if lasers can be used to effectively destroy things. Perhaps I’m not giving enough credit, understanding the laser breakdown threshold really creating and using lasers must safer. Also techniques such as laser induced breakdown spectroscopy involve the laser to atomise a sample for the spectrographic technique and laser machining can use the controlled ablation of a material to shape it.
It will be a trivial fact for most people that photons can provide energy, i.e. scatter, electrons. Photons providing energy to electrons occurs in the photoelectric effect which most people with a rudimentary knowledge of physics will know. This energy transfer, photons to electrons (or in fact any charged particle), is called Compton scattering which was covered in only slightly more detail here. This can be pictured as a stationary electron, impacted by a high frequency (therefore high energy) photon, and flying off due to receiving energy.
The most famous equation of perhaps the entirety of physics history: E = mc2. The simple statement that energy is inherently connected to mass. There are many caveats and extensions that can be understood but the basics is just that. A particle will have an energy that is stored partly as mass and partly as kinetic energy. In nuclear reactions we have discovered processes which ultimately lose some amount of mass, this is converted into energy with explosive potential (as the equation tells us that every kilogram of mass will provide c2 Joule worth of energy). The process can also work in reverse. Provide a photon with enough energy and it could very well produce mass in the form of an electron and a positron most commonly.
Muons are like electrons, but heavier. That is possibly the best description of them possible in so few words. Muons have a negative charge equivalent to an electrons, a spin of ±1/2 and can be found in many of the same Feynman diagrams as the electrons. This make their heaviness their defining characteristic as they have a mass 207 times greater than an electron’s. Of course this means it’s harder to accelerate a muon to particular speed but once it’s there, it’s unlikely to be stopped as easily as an electron. The transmissivity of a muon beam is considerably greater than that of an electron beam or an X-ray (their higher mass results in less deacceleration so less energy radiated). This means imaging of incredibly dense materials such as subterranean rocks or nuclear waste can be performed where an electron only method would struggle.
Ion acceleration in principal is quite easy to explain. Ions are charged and so will inevitably gain energy if an electric field is allowed to accelerate them. Inside time of flight mass spectrometers a type of ion acceleration takes place as the positive ions are pulled towards a negative plate (and end up shooting through a hole in the middle of it) so that there mass can be determined based on how long it took them to reach the detector. Of course there are more advanced methods of ion acceleration than this. Laser acceleration of ion beams has become quite the developed process.
Antihydrogen, made from a single antiproton and single positron, is the simplest antiatom that can be created. As tests are constantly going on to try and find some asymmetry between matter and antimatter there is always a demand for antihydrogen to be experimented with. Of course the production is hard enough as it involves trying to create and then bind two significantly different particles but afterwards containment is also an issue as the antihydrogen threatens to annihilate any matter it touches.