Readers may be familiar with the Steampunk genre, a fusion of history and science as people re-imagine how a modern world could look if Victorian engineering – specifically steam power – was still in use today.

As a bit of a computer/science geek AND also interested in history, it represents the perfect fusion of my interests.

Anyway, while wandering around the Synchrotron particle accelerator at the weekend, I noticed amongst all the high-tech magnets and liquid nitrogen something that looked slightly incongruous in the sanitary surroundings.

Oil for the vacuum pumps

OK, to be truly steampunk, the background really needed to be made from dark wood and the pipes should be made from brass fittings  – but this somewhat Victorian style chemistry set is dotted every few metres around the main storage ring and does look rather out of place.

They are actually oil measures and the levels of the rubber bungs in them need to be inspected regularly as the oil is used to lubricate the vacuum pumps that try to keep gases out of the main accelerator chamber.

In the meantime, if someone wants to buy me this steampunk inspired laptop computer for Christmas, I would be frightfully grateful. Thanks.

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