Archive for September 10th, 2008

The Large Hadron Collider

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Lyn Evans (Project leader for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider): ‘We all feel as if we are ending a marathon with a sprint. Let’s now bring this machine alive.’

The Large Hadron Collider, LHC, a gigantic scientific instrument built underground near Geneva, basically a circular tunnel with a length of 27km (!), is the world’s largest particle accelerator. This device is built to accelerate the smallest known particles, hadrons, and recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang by a head-to-head collision of two beams of these FAST moving particles traveling in opposite direction.

Some (semi-?)scientist musicians created the following clip explaining the LHC a bit more:

Today the LHC will be switched on for a first attempt to circulate a beam through the entire LHC, the first high-energy collisions are planned from October 21 2008.

Some say that this project is risky and could lead to the doomsday scenario of the possible destruction of the planet. Most scientists however agree that there is no basis for any imaginable threat from the LHC particle collisions…well, I guess we’ll see that today, eh? (and when we see, it directly means we survived! πŸ˜‰ )

The LHC will be used by researchers to understand and possibly answer questions like (and please focus on the last one, wow!):

– Is the popular Higgs mechanism for generating elementary particle masses in the Standard Model realised in nature? If so, how many Higgs bosons are there, and what are their masses?
– Will the more precise measurements of the masses of the quarks continue to be mutually consistent within the Standard Model?
– Do particles have supersymmetric (“SUSY”) partners?
– Why are there apparent violations of the symmetry between matter and antimatter?[1] See also CP-violation.
– Are there extra dimensions indicated by theoretical gravitons, as predicted by various models inspired by string theory, and can we “see” them?
– What is the nature of dark matter and dark energy?
– Why is gravity so many orders of magnitude weaker than the other three fundamental forces?
– Is time travel (utilising either General theory of relativity or wormholes or black holes) possible?

Uhhh, ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘Beam me up Scotty’ for real?? πŸ˜‰