Deep underground beneath the border of France and Switzerland rests the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider. The 17-mile-around ring of superconducting magnets was designed to uncover some of the most fundamental mysteries of our universe by crashing particles together at high speeds.
As fascinating as particle acceleration is, it’s also completely invisible. Particles are so unimaginably small that they can’t be observed. Self-described “inventor of useless things” Niklas Roy wanted to find a way to make what he calls “the tremendous joy of particle acceleration” available to the masses. In the Tschumi Pavilion in the Dutch city of Groningen, the Berlin-based artist built an LHC-inspired accelerator anyone can appreciate.
Essentially, it’s a vacuum cleaner attached to a ball pit and enclosed in a glass box. The machine contains 1,000 black sponge balls that get sucked through clear tubes by differences in air pressure, zipping the balls around at a speed of approximately nine mph. Visitors use a touch screen to control the airflow from outside, speeding up and slowing down the cascade of balls or reversing its direction.
If a bunch of vacuum-powered sponges flying through the air isn’t fun enough, Roy also filmed the experience from a spy camera strapped to one of the balls. Warning: It’s trippy and a little nauseating.
Read more about the machine here.