The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. It first started up on 10 September 2008, and remains the latest addition to CERN’s accelerator complex. Here’s some interesting facts about Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
1. The LHC comprises four huge labs interspersed around a ring-shaped tunnel near Geneva, 27 kilometres (16.9 miles) long and up to 175 metres (568 feet) below ground.
2. When the 27-km long circular tunnel was excavated, between Lake Geneva and the Jura mountain range, the two ends met up to within 1 cm.
3. Beams of hydrogen protons are accelerated in opposite directions to more than 99.9999 percent of the speed of light. Powerful superconducting magnets, chilled to a temperature colder than deep space, then “bend” the beams so that streams of particles collide within four large chambers.
4. Each of the 6000-9000 superconducting filaments of niobium–titanium in the cable produced for the LHC is about 0.007 mm thick, about 10 times thinner than a normal human hair. If you added all the filaments together they would stretch to the Sun and back six times with enough left over for about 150 trips to the Moon.
5. The smashups fleetingly generate temperatures 100,000 hotter than the Sun, replicating the conditions that prevailed just after the “Big Bang” that created the Universe 13.7 billion years ago.
6. At the LHC, beam energy will be influenced by the Moon. The absolute collision energy is not a critical issue for the LHC experiments, but the tidal variations will have to be taken into account when the beams are injected into the collider.
7. Swathing the chambers are detectors that give a 3-D image of the traces of sub-atomic particles hurled out from the protons’ destruction. These traces are then closely analysed in the search for movements, properties or novel particles that could advance our understanding of matter.
8. All protons accelerated at CERN are obtained from standard hydrogen. Although proton beams at the LHC are very intense, only 2 nanogrammes of hydrogen (as calculated at rest) are accelerated each day. Therefore, it would take the LHC about 1 million years to accelerate 1 gramme of hydrogen.
9. In top gear, the LHC is designed to generate nearly a billion collisions per second. Above ground, a farm of 3,000 computers, one of the largest in the world, instantly crunches the number down to about 100 collisions that are of the most interest.
10. The pressure in the beam pipes of the LHC will be about ten times lower than on the Moon. This is an ultrahigh vacuum.
11. At full energy, each of the two proton beams in the LHC will have a total energy equivalent to a 400 tonne train (like the French TGV) travelling at 150 km/h. This is enough energy to melt 500 kg of copper.
12. Other LHC investigations include supersymmetry — the idea that more massive particles exist beyond those in the Standard Model — and the mystery why anti-matter is so rare compared to matter, its counterpart. Supersymmetry could explain why visible matter only accounts for some four percent of the cosmos. Dark matter (23 percent) and dark energy (73 percent) account for the rest.
13. In absolute terms, the energies in the LHC, if compared to the energies we deal with everyday, are not impressive. In fact, 1 TeV is about the energy of motion of a flying mosquito. What makes the LHC so extraordinary is that it squeezes energy into a space about a million million times smaller than a mosquito.
14. The Sun never sets on the ATLAS collaboration. Scientists working on the experiment come from every continent in the world, except Antarctica.
15. The CMS magnet system contains about 10 000 tonnes of iron, which is more iron than in the Eiffel Tower.
16. The data recorded by each of the big experiments at the LHC will be enough to fill around 100 000 dual layer single-sided DVDs every year.
17. Completed in 2008, the LHC cost 6.03 billion Swiss francs (five billion euros, $6.27 billion, at today’s rates of conversion).