I am making a film about proton beam therapy which is a highly advanced form of radiotherapy. Sometimes there are facts that stop you in your tracks. At the heart of the kit that hurls proton at tumours is something the size of a car which weighs as much as a Boeing 747. Huge gantries, each the size of a three storey house, house tubes down which protons are accelerated, guided by magnets. The exquisite precision of PBT, which is used to treat deep or awkwardly sized or placed cancers in the head, neck and spine, is down to the Bragg Effect, an explosion of energy that is only released as the protons reach their target. It means there is hardly any collateral damage to tissue whilst the tumour gets a pinpoint nuclear strike. One of these machines is being built at UCL and the other in Manchester, which is very appropriate given that Ernest Rutherford, discoverer of the proton, was at the University of Manchester (and yes for those Trans Pennine-ists, Bragg the Younger after whom the effect was named did work in Leeds).
Installing this kit requires vast quantities of special concrete and a hole which, in London, is deeper than tube train tunnels.
And now see the film here: http://youtu.be/2MadsdvYOis
Note how we magically transformed a grey cold Manchester day into a sunny one, courtesy of our brilliant post production team.