At age 19, Christopher Miguel García Jaimes can boast of having built the world’s cheapest particle accelerator, a project borne of his interest to help and motivate young people of his native village in the state of Guerrero.
“I come from San Miguel Totolapan, one of the poorest, most marginalized and forgotten municipalities of the state of Guerrero, where the current situation of violence is affecting the population significantly, and I wanted to show the young people of my state that we can achieve peace through science and culture“, the young man told the Spanish News Agency EFE.
Eight months and twenty-three days was the time it took to build his “pocket accelerator” with a total expense of $1,000 pesos ($ 69 USD), which makes it the most economical in the world.
“The accelerator consists of a source particle acceleration system, an electronic optical system and a target, a fluorescent screen flashes when electrons hit it,” Christopher said.
“It was created with the goal of making science popular in schools”. He added.
“My dream is that every public and private high school in Mexico can have one, so that students can delve into science and see these accelerators as a common, everyday thing,” he explained.
Garcia was recognized in November with the “National Youth Award 2014” (Premio Nacional de la Juventud), an award which, as he said, “proves how the circumstances of young people, however difficult, do not determine their future”.
This thought led him to co-found and direct the “Science Without Borders Foundation” (Fundación Ciencia sin Fronteras) to encourage Mexican students and to “find young indigenous talents“.
“I am convinced that the next Einstein, Beethoven or Picasso can come out from a place like Guerrero or Michoacán” he said.
“The Science Without Borders Foundation wants to motivate young people, to invite them to stay in school, to become self-conscious and proud of their heritage, and to let them know that there is always an option to drug trafficking and violence. Every young man who continues to study scores twice for the Mexican State, first by acquiring knowledge and second by rejecting crime”. García declared.
Currently, Garcia studies physics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), works as a security guard to pay his tuition, and is immersed in new projects that give free rein to the curiosity he has been exercising since kindergarten.
“I heard that people at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were able to generate X-rays with adhesive tape, and I want to do it here,” he said.
Garcia and other members of the Foundation plan their expansion into Latin America and lead initiatives such as the “Take my hand and my book, too.”
“We intend to create libraries with donations from the public, and to bring books to underserved communities,” he said.
He stated that Mexican youth faces barriers to exercising scientific activity, such as lack of scholarships and financial aid, and that Mexican educational institutions do not support young talents on their initiatives or to reach their academic goals.
“Schools fail to give pupils the self-confidence to tackle research work”.
“I hope that if I have a son or a daughter, a family, people will tell them that their father struggled to give them a better world.” García concluded.
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