Eh-oh: Teletubbies inspire scientists

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The Independent Online

THE TELETUBBIES have been blamed for much: wrecking children's linguistic development (rapidly rebutted), portraying homosexuality (one carries a handbag) and being popular with stoned students (hardly novel). Now they can claim to have inspired the design of a 1,000-tonne particle detector to be built underground at a US research laboratory.

THE TELETUBBIES have been blamed for much: wrecking children's linguistic development (rapidly rebutted), portraying homosexuality (one carries a handbag) and being popular with stoned students (hardly novel). Now they can claim to have inspired the design of a 1,000-tonne particle detector to be built underground at a US research laboratory.

The design of the experiment at the Fermi Laboratory - or Fermilab - near Chicago, Illinois, might just look like a grassed-over bunker. Ask a child, though, and they'll say it looks just like the home of Tinky- Winky and friends.

That's because the designers had just come from babysitting duties. One was Jeff Sims, design co-ordinator for the MiniBoone - the "Mini BOOster Neutrino Experiment" - which will investigate the sub-atomic particles known as neutrinos.The other was Tom Pawlak, 64.

The MiniBoone itself is underground, but it needs a control tower. Dr Pawlak - who has two three-year-old grandaughters - told Dr Sims:'I've got a Teletubby concept for this."

Dr Sims, who has a one-year-old child, knew just what he meant: an elegant, environmentally-friendly topping instead of an ugly T-shaped one. The idea was approved - such is the Teletubbies' popularity in the US that the concept was easily understood and sold - and building starts next year.

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