Most electron beam physics is considered in the context of a vacuum, but there are applications to long-range electron beam transmission in air. As particle acceleration sources become more compact, we may have the chance to take particle beams out to the real world. The example provided in the paper describes that of x-ray backscatter detectors, where significantly stronger signals could be achieved by scanning objects with electron beams. This paper forms the basis for a potential new mode of particle-beam research, and it is important to ensure the reproducibility of this work for groups who wish to explore the applications of this new technology.
There are many applications to multi-MeV X-rays. Their penetrative properties make them good for scanning dense objects for industry, and their ionising properties can destroy tumours in radiotherapy. They are also around the energy of nuclear transitions, so they can trigger nuclear reactions to break down nuclear waste into medical isotopes, or to reveal smuggled nuclear-materials for port security. Laser-driven X-ray generation offers a compact and efficient way to create a bright source of X-rays, without having to construct a large synchrotron. To fully utilise this capability, work on optimising the target design and understanding the underlying X-ray mechanisms are essential. The hybrid-PIC code is in a unique position to model the full interaction, so its ease-of-use and reproducibility are crucial for this field to develop.
I guess it could be a cool learning experience. The paper is written with knitr, uses a seed, is part of the R package it describes, was openly written using version control (SVN, R-Forge) and is available in an open access journal (@up_jors).