In June of 1965, on Canada’s west coast, an inspired team of scientists arrived at a decision that would redefine the country’s science landscape.

50 Stories For Fifty-years of Beamtime

This community sourced archived captures individual anecdotes covering the accomplishments of those who first worked to establish the lab’s beamtime operations, as well as those who have kept this world-class machine operating since.

June 1965

At the heart of a proposed “meson workshop” would sit a subatomic particle production driver – a circle-shaped particle accelerator, capable of boosting charged particles to speeds of 224,000km/s. These accelerated particles would be ejected from the machine as an intense beam of protons, destined to smash into a target material, creating a shower of new particles which themselves could be used in a wide variety of physics research and applied uses.  

December 1973

“The magnetic field had to follow a precise pattern in both radius and angle to an accuracy of 1 part in 10,000 over an area of 200 square meters. In the absence of the powerful computer programs available today, this required a meticulous program of modelling and measurement” – Michael Craddock, TRIUMF physicist and historian.  

While its design wasn’t entirely novel, this 520 MeV cyclotron differed in significant ways from the 1/20th scale model on which it was based – and these differences tested the talent within TRIUMF’s design, physics, and engineering teams. 

December 15, 1974, 03:30

The payoff for 12-hour days over eight years finally arrived when then director, Dr. Reg Richardson, adjusted the various coils to alter the magnetic field and carefully teased the charged particles through. As staff huddled around a small screen in the main control room, a spot of light appeared, proof that a beam of particles had successfully circled the cyclotron – TRIUMF’s steel giant had awoken.