Thursday, 3 September 2015

En route for Collision!

I don't know whether it was because I was watching Angels and Demons this morning, that I suddenly thought what was happening with the LHC (Large Hadron Collider). Having not heard anything about it since they switched it on in 2008/2009, and apart from the Higgs Boson particle discovery,  I thought it was time to find out what was happening in regards to this pretty awesome piece of scientific kit.

The background
The Large Hadron Collider is a particle accelerator. It is comprised of superconducting magnets along its 27 km circumference. The role of the magnets is to boost the energy of the particles moving inside the accelerator. Two high energy particle beams are put into the accelerator, in different pipes; where they move almost at the speed of light. As the beams whizz around, another magnet is used to push them closer together to increase the likelihood of a collision. If and when the particles collide, the energy released is received via 4 particle detectors.


One of the Particle detectors
(image sourced from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/11304375@N07/2046228644)

Currently...
The LHC has been switched off which allows the engineers and technicians to carry out maintenance on the $9bn machinery. Although there is no current time frame for when the collider will be up and running again, it is very important that the work is carried out properly for 3 reasons: to ensure more positive results for physics; a machine working to its full potential and above all safety of  those who work alongside it. Ensuring these constraints are met, means no rushing to finish the repairs by a specific date.

I understand that a thorough maintenance of the LHC is what truly matters, and is potentially the gateway to exciting new discoveries in physics.

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