Big science's trickle-down effect
From BBC News, Feb. 8, 2012
One of the main justifications for the billions we spend on big, state-of-the-art science projects like the Large Hadron Collider is not the discoveries they make (although those are obviously important in their own right), but the way in which these showcase projects drive technological innovation across a range of other applications.
So the space race put a man on the moon, but it also generated dramatic advances in computing, engineering, materials science and navigation - advances that we all take for granted today.
In the same way the last big atom smasher at Cern, the LEP, gave us MRI scanners and the World Wide Web.
Now another team of physicists, this time working with the ALICE accelerator at the Science and Techhnology Facilities Council's Daresbury Science Laboratory in Cheshire, believe they may have come up with their own unique contribution to medical science.
ALICE is an advanced prototype energy recovery accelerator that focuses the radiation generated by charged particles - in this case electrons - into a powerful infrared laser. A light source that, as well as probing the atomic structure of matter, can illuminate the biochemical composition of human tissue.