Secrets of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC): CERN’s Most Famous Project

What is LHC?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a particle accelerator that was built inside a tunnel beneath the Franco-Swiss border. It was built in order to study the building blocks of our universe, including black holes and other extremely dense objects known as quarks.

It has a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of particles as they travel around the ring. The accelerator is located 100 metres underground, in a 27-kilometre tunnel straddling the French-Swiss border near Geneva. It was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and runs through both Switzerland and France. 

The LHC has been called one of the most important scientific instruments ever built, and it's certainly had its ups and downs: first it was a disaster, then it was a success that changed how we think about space-time, and then it broke again. But now it's back on track!

When was it built?

CERN's Large Hadron Collider was built in 2008, and it's still going strong today. It's home to the most powerful collider in existence, and it has helped scientists answer some of the biggest questions about the nature of matter.

But what you may not know is that CERN is actually a massive collaboration between dozens of countries around the world—and that includes you! In fact, every country in Europe contributes some small part to the LHC (and other projects at CERN), which means they're all working together toward one goal: to understand how our universe works—and what we can do with that knowledge.

The goals of the project

The goals of the project are to probe the fundamental structure of matter and to test theories of particle physics. The LHC will also be used to search for new particles, including those that could make up dark matter. 

In addition, the LHC will help scientists study how particles acquire mass. Finally, the collider will be used to create miniature black holes and study their properties. Black holes occur when a massive star collapses in on itself after running out of fuel, but these ones created by the LHC would only exist for less than a second before they either evaporate or explode into energy. Scientists believe these mini-black holes might answer questions about how gravity works.

Is there any risk associated with the LHC?

While the LHC has been designed with safety in mind, any time you deal with such high energies there is always some risk involved.  One of the most publicized risks to date involves hypothetical particles called strangelets. Strangelets are theorized particles that would behave differently from all other known matter. 

For example, they might not be composed of quarks or electrons but instead could consist of combinations of up and down quarks (as opposed to just up or down). It is believed that if strangelets were produced at large enough energy levels and collided with ordinary matter, they would cause a chain reaction that would turn everything into strangelets and thus end life on Earth as we know it! 

What does all this mean for us humans? 

The discovery of the Higgs boson is a remarkable achievement, but it also has some pretty ominous implications. 

The Higgs boson is what gives other particles their mass, and without it, they would zip around at the speed of light. So without the Higgs boson, we would cease to exist. LHC experiments have created micro black holes which scientists have then proceeded to evaporate by colliding them with protons. 

Although these are only tiny black holes, theoretically if you were able to create something as big as our sun (a great deal larger than the ones that scientists were able to create), that could cause problems for Earth as well as for any nearby stars or planets. 

With all this said, I believe that science should always be pursued because there may be good outcomes too; but we must proceed with caution so as not to bring disaster upon ourselves.

LHC Run 3 – Why does it matter to you?

After a long wait for the machine to be restarted, CERN shows no sign of slowing down.

CERN on their official Facebook page cited the following:

“In April 2022, CERN restarted the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) after more than three years of maintenance and upgrades, known as Long Shutdown 2 (LS2).

Since then, experts have worked around the clock to progressively recommission the machine and safely ramp up the energy and intensity of the beams before delivering collisions to the LHC experiments at the world-record energy of 13.6 trillion electronvolts (13.6 TeV). These high-energy collisions with stable beams will mark the beginning of the third run of the LHC, called Run 3.

Join CERN scientists live on 5 July, 16.00 CEST to celebrate this world record and the upcoming physics season. The live will be broadcasted in English on Facebook, and in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish on Youtube.”

From CERN Facebook Official Page

3D cut of the LHC dipole (Image: CERN)

The launch of Large Hadron Collider Run 3 will be streamed live on CERN’s social media channels as mentioned on their Facebook page starting at 4.00 P.M. CEST on July 5. Live commentary from the CERN Control Centre is available in five languages – English, French, German, Italian and Spanish – so to spread what they have been doing will be understood by the majority.  

They will walk the viewers through the operation stages that take proton beams from injection into the LHC to collisions for physics at the four interaction points where the experiments are located. A live Q&A session with experts from the accelerators and experiments will conclude the live stream. This is according to one of the articles CERN has released.

With the schedule posted and availability to be watched by the majority, it is good that many eyes would see what would happen. 

Particle accelerators can pose hazards; they emit ionizing radiation while they are operating and can produce radioactive waste. We are just hoping that regulations and good safety practices ensure that workers and the public are protected when particle accelerators are running.

On the other hand, several pictures and videos have been published that I found interesting. I suggest you take a look at them and decide for yourself if this LHC experiment really has a dark side.

Mark your calendar – July 5th
CERN Ceremony Gotthard Tunnel

Why is Shiva's Natraj statue here?

Cern's 666 logo

Skyportals and other high-level weirdness

The LHC, which began operations on July 5th, has sparked a lot of fear. Despite the considerable benefits to be gained from the project, there is an overtone of fear surrounding all things scientific.  We dug up some facts to find out what's really going on. We're presenting the facts as we find them—so feel free to comment! 

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