Imploding Vacuum tubes for science

The researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory are looking for a way to harden photomultiplier tubes. In order to make a more durable tube the researchers decided it would be a good idea to first observe how the tubes are failing. So they got their hands on an old torpedo test bay and smashed some bulbs inside of it. Check in after the break for some high fps bulb smashing.

Photomultiplier tubes are used in massive quantities to detect the highly elusive neutrino particle. The problem is when you have 50,000 photomultipliers submerged in pressurized water the the collapse of just a single bulb can cause a shock wave of destruction. This is what happened in japan in 2001 when a maintenance worker unknowingly compromised a single bulb in a 11,000 bulb array. When the tank was repressurized that single compromised bulb caused them to lose 7,000 more.

[via wired]


  1. jaqen says:

    “does it fail under pressure?” doesn’t sound as catchy as “does it blend?” :-)

  2. trebu says:

    how about “Does it ‘plode?” just about as catchy, and more versatile!

  3. Matt Fulghum says:

    This is pretty much exactly what my lab does for research. I oughta tell my boss… maybe we could work something out with BNL.

    Underwater shock waves are awesome.

  4. Grovenstien says:

    will it plode!!! exquisite.

  5. Josh says:

    Pop one of them and it starts a chain reaction? Sounds like the real-life version of BubblePop or one of the many chain-reaction games like that, only extremely expensive. And cool.

  6. fotoflojoe says:

    Ya know, I did this when I was a kid, and got labelled “destructive”. These guys do it, and they’re labelled “scientists”…

  7. Yossarian says:

    Breaking tubes! Since when is that a hack?! Is this implode tubes-a-day now?!?!?!

  8. haha.. a related but illegal “experiment” is to obtain a surplus intact colour CRT, carefully float it out to sea then throw bricks etc at it.
    Frowned upon by enviro-whiners but almost as fun as fluorescent tube + plasma lamp driver light-saber fights.

  9. dbear says:

    I wonder what 7000 multiplier tubes imploding sounds like? How do you say “oh @$#$, what was that?” in Japanese?

  10. yetihehe says:

    >I wonder what 7000 multiplier tubes imploding sounds like?
    Sounds very expensive ;)

    How do you say “oh @$#$, what was that?” in Japanese?
    Yabai, nanideshita ka?

  11. octel says:

    what does it do besides crack a little bit, fill with water, and sink?

  12. Eddie says:

    And this… is why I <3 BNL.

    RHIC, LinAC, and now imploding things, not necessarily in that order FTW.

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