LHC short primer

A lot of people were recently reaching Sciencebase using the search phrase “LHC short primer”. I assume they’re after information about the Large Hadron Collider. So here’s a quick executive summary:

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a particle collider, in some ways the most complex experimental facility ever built, and the largest single machine in the world. It was constructed for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) between 1998 and 2008 with 10,000 scientists and engineers involved from more than 100 countries. Hundreds of universities and laboratories were involved in its design, construction and implementation. Its construction budget was 7.5 billion Euros.

The LHC sits in a roughly circular tunnel with a circumference of 27 kilometres some 175 metres beneath land on the French-Swiss border near Geneva. Scientists began using it for scientific research in March 2010, running countless experiments until early 2013. The energy levels of particulars in the collider reach 3.5 to 4 teraelectronvolts (TeV) per beam (7 to 8 TeV total), which bust the previous collider record by approximately four times. It was then temporarily shut down for maintenance and upgrades and fired up again in early 2015 at which point it could operate at 6.5 TeV per beam (13 TeV total).

Basically, the collider fires beams of protons in opposite directions around the circuit and watches what happens when they collide. At these high energies, the collisions release other particles and energy that give scientists clues as to the fundamental nature of matter. One of the biggest results was the detection of the Higgs boson, which was nicknamed the “God Particle” by some observers. This particle generates a field that fills the universe and gives particles their mass.

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