Large Hadron Collider

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    • The world’s most powerful particle collider, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), will begin smashing protons into each other at unprecedented levels of energy beginning July 5.

    What is Large Hadron Collider?

    Machine to study particles:

    • The Large Hadron Collider is a giant, complex machine built to study particles that are the smallest known building blocks of all things.

    Structure:

    •  It is a 27-km-long track-loop buried 100 metres underground on the Swiss-French border. 

    Working:

    • In its operational state, it fires two beams of protons almost at the speed of light in opposite directions inside a ring of superconducting electromagnets.
    • The magnetic field created by the superconducting electromagnets keeps the protons in a tight beam and guides them along the way as they travel through beam pipes and finally collide.
    • Just prior to collision, another type of magnet is used to ‘squeeze’ the particles closer together to increase the chances of collisions. 
    • The particles are so tiny that the task of making them collide is akin to firing two needles 10 km apart with such precision that they meet halfway

    Storage Requirement:

    • Since the LHC’s powerful electromagnets carry almost as much current as a bolt of lightning, they must be kept chilled. 
    • The LHC uses a distribution system of liquid helium to keep its critical components ultracold at minus 271.3 degrees Celsius, which is colder than interstellar space. 
    • Given these requirements, it is not easy to warm up or cool down the gigantic machine.

    Latest upgrade

    • It will operate round-the-clock for four years at unprecedented energy levels of 13 tera electron volts.
    • It aims to deliver 1.6 billion proton-proton collisions per second” for the ATLAS and CMS experiments.
    • This time, the proton beams will be narrowed to less than 10 microns (a human hair is around 70 microns thick) to increase the collision rate.   

    ATLAS:

    • ATLAS is the largest general purpose particle detector experiment at the LHC; 

    CMS:

    • The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment is one of the largest international scientific collaborations in history, with the same goals as ATLAS, but which uses a different magnet-system design.