Large Hadron Collider
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC for short) is man kind’s most ambitious scientific project to date, and aims to find out what we don’t yet know about the Big Bang. The large machine aims to create conditions similar to that around just after the Big Bang itself, with the main objective of identifying information about the building blocks of life that are currently unknown. The machine was first started up on 10th September 2008, with the first run being successful. The machine itself was first proposed 20 years ago, and has taken 13 years in itself to be built; one physicist working on the project, Django Manglunki, was quoted as saying ‘We’ve been preparing that beam for more than ten years’; that in itself shows the determination of the scientists that are behind this massive project.
Previously labeled as the ‘doomsday machine’ because of talk of its ability to create mini black holes that some thought would consume the Earth as a planet, the machine is on the search of the ‘Higgs Boson’ which has been nicknamed by many scientists as the ‘God particle’. If black holes are formed within the tunnel, they will only last for less than a millisecond meaning that there is no cause for alarm since they will be unable to have any effect.
It is thought that by creating hundreds of thousands head-on collisions each second in the 27km tunnel that runs underneath the French and Swiss border, Scientists will be able to understand the kind of conditions that existed in the universe just a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang itself occured. Within several months, CERN sciencists hope to be able to use two beams with 2,208 bunches of protons each in the Large Hadron Collider. Each bunch of protons will contain around a hundred billion protons. For those that don’t know, protons are positively charged particles found in the nuclei of atoms.
CERN scientists will make use of the LHC’s four large detectots to pick up the results that they want. Each detector is in place to serve a different purpose, ensuring that scientists will get all the results that they want. The LHC detectors are:
- ATLAS – this detector is one of the so called ‘general purpose’ detectors which will be mainly used to look for signs of new physics which could include the origin of mass as well as extra dimensions
- CMS – this is the second ‘general purpose’ detector alongside ATLAS and is responsible for hunting out the ‘Higgs Boson’ and to look for clues into the nature of so called ‘dark matter’
- ALICE – this will look into matter of a liquid form called quark-gluon plasma that is said to have existed just after the big bang
- LHCb – it is a fact that equal amounts of matter and anti-matter were created in the big bang – this detector will be responsible for finding out what happened to the so called ‘missing’ anti-matter.
Each collision will create a spray of energy that will allow other assorted particles to form, it is then that scientists will study which particles show up and how often. To begin with, single beam of two billion protons was fired into the Large Hadron Collider, hopefully followed by several bunches of protons at once within a couple of hours. Once scientists and others involved in the project are happy that the machine is working fine, they will attempt to fire two beams in the opposite directions, before they actually begin to make them collide at a later date. The first beam to be fired will be of low intensity, meaning that it is unlikely to show any readings.
Some scientists believe and hope that the Large Hadron Collider will help them discover a whole new array of particles, which could lead on to many more scientific discoveries in the near future.