Large Hadron Collider

Large Hadron Collider

News: The world’s most powerful particle collider, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), will begin smashing protons into each other at unprecedented levels of energy beginning July 5.

About LHC:
• The Large Hadron Collider is a giant, complex machine built to study particles that are the smallest known building blocks of all things.
• LHC is a 27-km-long track-loop buried 100m underground on the Swiss-French border.
• In its operational state, it fires two beams of protons almost at the speed of light in opposite directions inside a ring of superconducting electromagnets.
• The magnetic field created by the superconducting electromagnets keeps the protons in a tight beam and guides them along the way as they travel through beam pipes and finally collide.
• The particles are so tiny that the task of making them collide is akin to firing two needles 10 km apart with such precision that they meet halfway.
• Since the LHC’s powerful electromagnets carry almost as much current as a bolt of lightning, they must be kept chilled. It uses liquid helium to keep its critical components ultra-cold at minus 271.3 degrees Celsius, which is colder than interstellar space.

Experiments at LHC so far:
• This is the LHC’s third run, it will operate round-the-clock for four years at unprecedented energy levels of 13 tera electron volts. (An electron volt is the energy given to an electron by accelerating it through 1 volt of electric potential difference).
• Scientists are aiming to be delivering 1.6 billion proton-proton collisions per second for the ATLAS and CMS experiments.
• ATLAS - Largest general purpose particle detector experiment at the LHC.
• CMS - One of the largest international scientific collaborations in history, with the same goals as ATLAS, but which uses a different magnet-system design.

Achievements of LHC:
• God Particle’ discovery - Scientists at CERN had announced the discovery of the Higgs boson or the ‘God Particle’ during the LHC’s first run.
• This led to Peter Higgs and his collaborator François Englert being awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 2013.
• The Higgs boson is the fundamental particle associated with the Higgs field, a field that gives mass to other fundamental particles such as electrons and quarks.
• ‘New Physics’ beyond Standard Model - After the discovery of the Higgs boson, scientists have started using the data collected as a tool to look beyond the Standard Model, which is currently the best theory of the most elementary building blocks of the universe and their interactions.

What next?
• Physicists want to use the collisions to learn more about the Universe at the smallest scales, and to solve mysteries such as the nature of dark matter.
• The LHC's goal is to allow physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics.
• Technology found in particle accelerators is already used for certain types of cancer surgery etc.

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