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L - Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

 


 

The Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. By smashing together sub-atomic particles at close to the speed of light, it aims to recreate the conditions that existed just a fraction of a second after the birth of the universe. In doing so, it is expected to address some of the most fundamental questions in physics.

The LHC lies in a tunnel 27 kilometres (17 mi) in circumference, as much as 175 metres (574 ft) beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland. This synchrotron is designed to collide opposing particle beams of either protons at an energy of 7 tera-electronvolts (7 TeV) per particle, or lead nuclei at 574 TeV per nucleus. The term "hadron" refers to particles composed of quarks.

The machine was designed by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) with the intention of testing various predictions of high-energy physics, including the existence of the hypothesised Higgs boson, and of the large family of new particles predicted by supersymmetry. It was built in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries, as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories.

In September 2008, the proton beams were successfully circulated in the main ring of the LHC for the first time – but nine days later its operations were halted due to a serious malfunction. In November 2009, they were successfully circulated again, the first recorded proton-proton collisions occurring three days later at the injection energy of 0.45 TeV per beam. After the 2009 winter shutdown, the LHC was restarted and the beam was ramped up to half power, 3.5 TeV per beam (i.e. half its designed energy). In March 2010, the first planned collisions took place between two 3.5 TeV beams – a new world record for the highest-energy particle collisions. The LHC will continue to operate at half power until 2015, when it reaches maximum design capacity of 7 TeV.*

Initially, the experiment sparked fear among the public that the collisions might produce a doomsday scenario, involving microscopic black holes or hypothetical particles known as strangelets. Two CERN-commissioned safety reviews examined these concerns and concluded that the experiments at the LHC presented no danger and that there was no reason for concern, a conclusion endorsed by the American Physical Society.

 

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References

1 Large Hadron Collider, Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider
Accessed 19th January 2014.

 
     
 

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