The LHC: What is it?

I’ve been meaning to write something about the LHC for awhile now, and since we’re on the verge of it’s re-start, I figured I’d get’er done and get something out.

For those who are new to the LHC, hopefully I can give you some super cheap and easy run-down about what it is, because even I won’t be able to explain it very well.

The LHC stands for Large Hadron Collider, and is in essence, a particle accelerator.  It’s built in the shape of a ring so particles sent in opposite directions along the ring will eventually collide.  The circumference of this beast is roughly 27km, making it the largest particle accelerator in the world.  It’s based in Geneva, Switzerland, but it’s shear size (it’s about 100m underground, by the way) puts half of it over the border into France.

One of the giant magnets of the LHC.

One of the giant magnets of the LHC.

In a sense, this is basically a giant physics experiment.  So big in fact, that it cost a solid £2.6 billion (roughly $4.6 billion), spread over the cooperation of 20 European countries.  The entire instrument was created by CERN, or the European Center of Nuclear Research.  If you’re curious how that acronym  works, CERN stands for the french version (Centre European de Researche Nucleaire).

While the LHC was built over the years from 1996 to 2004, it’s first start-up was not until August 2008, which ended with some faulty wiring (can’t remember the cause), causing it to shut down for repairs.  With a re-start planned for sometime this year, it should be coming soon!  At the moment, I think they’re cooling it down yet again, down to 1.9K (K meaning Kelvin).  For reference, zero degrees Kelvin is -270C.

More to come about the LHC, including it’s experiments, and it’s issues.

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One Response to The LHC: What is it?

  1. SONU says:

    A SUPERB, EXCELLENT AND ROCKING MACHINE.

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