Jun 9, 2008

Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a particle accelerator of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) that lies under the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland. It is 27 kilometers (16.7 miles) long and housed in a pipe-like structure 100 meters below ground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things.

As part of the experiment, two beams of subatomic particles, called 'hadrons,' will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy.

Physicists will use the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), one of the two large detectors on the LHC, to investigate a wide range of physics, including the search for the elusive Higgs boson, extra dimensions, and particles that could make up dark matter. Winding the solenoid coil of the CMS took five years to complete. When it is fully operational, it will generate a magnetic field 100,000 times stronger than the one produced by the Earth.

The LHC is in the final stages of construction and commissioning, with some sections already being cooled down to their final operating temperature of approximately 2K. The first beams are due for injection on mid June 2008 and the first collisions is planned to take place 2 months later. The LHC will become the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. The LHC is being funded and built in collaboration with over 2000 physicists from 34 countries as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories. CERN


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