Salad bowl accelerator


The Salad Bowl Accelerator

I am making no claims at all on the salad bowl accelerator. It has been promoted by all sorts of people from CERN to Instructables. The video on the left is a brief introduction and there are some detailed instructions for constructing the accelerator here

An alternative set of instructions and some background information from The Royal Holloway University, London, can be downloaded below.


The salad bowl accelerator certainly has novelty value but it can be a source of inquiry into several A level topics including electric fields, particle accelerators, free body diagrams, circular motion and even terminal velocity. The following  is a list of questions that students might consider and a sample set of responses can be downloaded below. If you have any other questions that you think could be added or a comment about the answers please email tcp@thomascarlpion.co.uk.

  1. Describe in detail how the salad bowl accelerator works. Explain in terms of charge transfer and / or electric fields. Why must the ball be coated in conducting paint?
  2. Draw a force diagram for the ball and bowl. Draw a free body diagram for the ball. Resolve the forces vertically and horizontally then perpendicular and parallel to the surface of the bowl.
  3. Explain why the ball reaches a constant average speed.
  4. Explain why the ping pong ball moves in a circle.
  5. What are the similarities and differences between the salad bowl accelerator and a particle synchrotron like the large hadron collider? 

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Thomas Carl Pion,
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