Physics Curiosities

The Large Hadron Collider – LHC

What is the large hadron collider-LHC and where is the large hadron collider located?

Located at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), on the border between France and Switzerland, and put into operation for the first time on September 10, 2008, the LHC (from the English, Large Hadron Collider ) is the largest particle accelerator ever built with a circumference of 27 kilometers in diameter, 175 meters below ground level.

The Large Hadron Collider – LHC  is the largest and most powerful particle accelerator that has ever existed. Within the LHC are some of the most sophisticated instruments ever built os collider are characterized by accelerated particle beams to energies very near the speed of light to make them collide with each other after or on other targets.Then, from detectors of all kinds, the results are recorded in order to understand a little more of what we are made of. To put it in some way, this type of accelerator is the way that scientists have to try to scrutinize what is inside matter.

Along the tunnel through which the particles collide, there are several detectors that record data for various study purposes. The main experiences are:

  • ALICE – L arge I on C ollider E xperiment (Large Ion Collider Experiment):

This detector seeks to unravel the hot and dense matter created from the collision of heavy ions at high energies. More than 100 physicists from 111 laboratories and universities in 31 different countries work on this experiment.

  • ATLAS – L oroidal T HC A pparatu s (Toroidal Instrumental Device for LHC):

It seeks to detect the Higgs Boson and supersymmetric particles, and to analyze the physical properties in high energy. The construction of this detector is the result of the collaboration of 172 institutes from 37 countries and has more than 2500 scientists.

  • CMS – C ompact M uon S olenoid (Compact Muon Solenoid):

It basically has the same objectives as the ATLAS detector, but it is more compact. More than 2600 people from 180 scientific institutes participated in its construction.

  • LHCb – L arge H adron C ollider “ b eauty” ( beauty refers to the bottom quark ):

Developed to measure the rare decay of mesons with either the bottom or anti-bottom quark, it also seeks to measure the violation of symmetry between particles and antiparticles (such as electron and positron). The experiment has 650 scientists from 48 institutes in 13 countries.

  • LHCf – L arge H adron C ollider “ f orward” :

The word forward is used in the name because the detector works in the region after collisions. It seeks to experiment on cosmic rays created from high energy collisions. In this experiment, 22 scientists work, representing 10 institutes from 4 countries.

  • TOTEM – Tot al E lastic and diffractive cross section M easurement :

It seeks to measure the size of the protons and the luminosity of the collisions at the LHC. For this, it has 50 scientists from 10 institutes in 8 countries.

The Higgs Boson is a hypothetical elementary particle, which, if observed, will explain the origin of the mass of the other elementary particles.

The LHC went into operation on September 10, 2008, but was shut down nine days later, after a helium leak used to cool the tunnel. After 14 months the accelerator was restarted, on November 20, 2009, and the first collision, which happened on March 30, 2010, generated an energy of 7 TeV (7 teraelectron-volts).

Probably the first results obtained from this experiment will take months to be processed, but it can be said that scientists are getting closer and closer to unraveling the mysteries of the origin of the Universe.

11 curiosities about the Large Hadron Collider at CERN

In the framework of physics , its fundamental objective is the search for the origin and the ultimate constituents of atoms, their basic components, that is, the so-called elementary particles.. And so, by paying close attention to the products resulting from these collisions, physicists learn about the laws of Nature. However, thanks to particle accelerators, and the need to develop parallel technologies for their construction and operation, other achievements have been achieved that have contributed to the development of science and the well-being of humanity in a considerable way. Some examples are found in computer science, modern cryptography, satellite geographic positioning or in the digitization of medical images and radiotherapy, among many others. We present you a journey inside the LHC in which to discover some of its secrets and achievements .

The throttle accelerator

Buried underground, the LHC is an ambitious engineering project. It is the largest particle accelerator ever built: its circumference spans 26,659 meters and contains 9,300 magnets inside.

A challenge to gravity

LHC magnets generate magnetic fields 100,000 times stronger than Earth’s gravitational force

The largest refrigerator in the world

It is not only the largest particle accelerator, but also the largest “refrigerator” in the world. Inside the LHC the temperatures reached are astronomical, and for its correct operation, the magnets that make it up must sometimes remain at temperatures of -271.3 ºC, for which tons of liquid nitrogen and helium are used.

Dizzying speed

The LHC is also the circuit where the highest speeds in the world are reached. In it, scientists have managed to accelerate particles to 99.9999991% of the speed of light, the speed limit in the universe.

A very empty place

The LHC is, in turn, the emptiest place in the solar system. This is essential to avoid that the particles when being accelerated for their study, collide with other gas molecules. The void inside is similar to that found in interplanetary space.

Extreme heat and cold

We have talked before about the temperatures of -271.3 ºC reached by the LHC cooling system; this temperature is even lower than that of outer space. However, when, for example, two beams of lead ions collide, concentrated in a tiny space, they also generate temperatures some 100,000 times hotter than the heart of the sun. This gives us an idea of ​​the incredible development required for the operation of a particle accelerator.

ALICE project

ALICE -A Large Ion Collider Experiment- is a heavy ion detector in the ring of the Large Hadron Collider. All ordinary matter in the universe today is made up of atoms. Each atom contains a nucleus made up of protons and neutrons – except hydrogen, which has no neutrons – surrounded by a cloud of electrons. Protons and neutrons are in turn made up of quarks held together by other particles called gluons. ALICE is designed to study the physics of matter that interacts strongly at extreme energy densities, where a phase of matter is formed called a quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter believed to have formed just after the Big Bang.

ATLAS project

The years to come will be exciting as ATLAS takes experimental physics into uncharted territory, perhaps with new processes and particles that could change our understanding of energy and matter. ATLAS physicists evaluate the predictions of the Standard Model, which summarizes our current understanding of what the building blocks of matter are and how they interact.

CMS project

The CMS Project -Compact Muon Solenoid- consists of one of the detectors of the Large Hadron Collider. It has an extensive physics program associated with it, ranging from the study of the Standard Model – including the Higgs boson – to the search for dark matter. Although it has the same scientific objectives as the ATLAS experiment, it uses different technical solutions and a different magnet system design. The CMS detector is built around a large solenoid magnet, which generates a 4 tesla field, about 100,000 times the Earth’s magnetic field.

LHCb project

The Large Hadron Collider beauty experiment -LHCb- specializes in investigating the slight differences between matter and antimatter by studying a type of particle called a “beauty quark” or “b quark”. Their goal is to shed light on why we live in a universe that appears to be made up almost entirely of matter, but not antimatter.

On the trail of the Higgs Boson

On July 4, 2012, ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider announced that each had independently observed a new particle with a mass of around 126 GeV. This particle was likely to be the Higgs boson predicted by the Standard Model. For “the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of subatomic particles with mass”, one of the most important findings of recent times, its discoverers received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013. However, despite being treated Of a tremendously important finding, the question remains whether it is the Higgs boson or one of the other particles predicted by models that go far beyond the standard model.

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