Thirteen Facts About the Large Hadron Collider
1. The Large Hardron Collider (LHC) is the “world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator complex,” and its purpose is to test the current standard theory of particle physics. Shiny.
2. The LHC collides beams of protons with the hopes of finding the elusive Higgs Boson. This finding would confirm some suppositions about particle physics, such as how elementary particles (i.e., quarks and leptons etc.) acquire mass. It would bring us closer to formulating a Grand Unified Theory, which unifies three of the four known fundamental forces: electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. The theory leaves out only gravity, which always gets me down.
3. Firing up the LHC might destroy life as we know it. By recreating the Big Bang environment scientists could potentially create a new black hole every second. Stephen Hawking has countered this and stated that these tiny black holes should lose more mass than they absorb and evaporate within a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. So, we all trust Steve, right?
4. The first beams were circulated through the collider on September 10, 2008, and the first high-energy collisions are planned for October 21, 2008.
5. The collider tunnel contains two adjacent pipes each holding a proton beam, a type of hadron. The two beams travel in opposite directions around the ring. Almost two thousand magnets keep the beams on their circular path and maximize the chances of the beams crossing. Is anyone else having a Ghostbusters flashback? Don’t cross the beams and don’t feed it after midnight.
6. Stephen Hawking hopes we actually do not find the Higgs Boson particle: “I think it will be much more exciting if we don’t find the Higgs. That will show something is wrong, and we need to think again. I have a bet of $100 that we won’t find the Higgs.” In this scenario Hawking hopes to discover superpartners, particles that would be supersymmetric partners to particles already known. “Their existence would be a key confirmation of string theory, and they could make up the mysterious dark matter that holds galaxies together. Whatever the LHC finds, or fails to find, the results will tell us a lot about the structure of the universe,” he said.
7. The LHC experiments might also uncover why there seem to be symmetry violations between matter and anti-matter. We might also learn more about the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Sorry, captain, I can’t push the anti-matter drive any faster without more dilithium crystals!
8. The LHC experiments might prove or disprove the extra dimensions postulated by string physics. I hope it uncovers a Chocolate Dimension and a Calories-Don’t-Count-Here dimension — and preferably a worm hole connecting the two.
9. The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) built the Large Hadron Collider and may upgrade the facility’s Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS), a particle accelerator, in ten years. Does anyone else think that the Super Proton Synchrotron could kick Megatron’s a$$?
10. Tevatron is a circular particle accelerator at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois and was the highest energy particle collider in the world until the the Large Hadron Collider was built. I hope they enjoyed their fifteen minutes of fame.
11. According to Wikipedia, “[T]he Very Large Hadron Collider (VLHC) is a name for a hypothetical future hadron collider with performance significantly beyond the Large Hadron Collider.” The Very Very Very Very Gigantic Hadron Collider, slated to be built in 2025, goes up to 11.
12. A hadron is composed of quarks bound up together by a strong nuclear force, similar to how atoms are held together by electromagnetic force. Protons and neutrons are hadrons. The LHC may uncover the existence of other elementary particles called “sparticles.” Theoretically, when particles such as leptons, photons, and quarks were produced in the Big Bang, each was accompanied by a matching sparticle: sleptons, photinos and squarks. How funny would it be to get Gerry Butler to yell out “THIS IS A SPARTICLE!”?
13. The Higgs boson, called the “God Particle” in pop culture, is a hypothetical elementary particle predicted to exist by the Standard Model of particle physics. The Higgs Boson is the only Standard Model particle not yet observed and was named after Peter Higgs, British theoretical physicist and an emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh.
Read more about the Large Hadron Collider:
30 stunning images of the Large Hadron Collider