Columbia's Historic Atom Smasher Is Now Destined for the Junk Heap

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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.

The machine, known as a cyclotron, sits in the basement of Pupin Hall, home of Columbia’s physics department. 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.

Its breakthroughs led to the secretive race for the atom bomb in World War II and, afterward, to Pupin Hall’s designation as a national historic landmark.

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