Wednesday, September 10, 2008

LHC to go off with a Big Bang

Somewhere in Europe, 100 metres underground, sits a supercooled, superbig science experiment ready to recreate the early moments of the Big Bang. No, it’s not the pet project of an evil genius intent on destroying the world- it’s the world’s largest particle accelerator, set to switch on in a few hours.

It’s known as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a £2.6 billion, 27 kilometre tunnel loop, constructed underground at CERN on the border between Switzerland and France. Inside the vacuum of the LHC, streams of protons, steered by thousands of magnets, will make the 90 microsecond trip around the loop before being smashed together head-on. Four detectors situated in enormous underground caverns around the ring will record the results.

Physicists hope that collisions between the proton beams will produce new particles such as the elusive Higgs boson, which can explain why all other particles have mass. The data should help us to understand what is the universe is made of and how it was created in the first place- Big Questions indeed!


  1. Are there any plans to collide platypus venom genes in the hadron?

    Dr. Robert J. Oppenheimer

  2. Do my bosons give you a hadron? (Science joke that I stole/borrowed from the webbynet... but at least it's funny!)