The most expensive machine in the world
Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a tunnel to the beginning of time. The Universe started with a Big Bang, but nobody fully understand how or why it developed the way it did. The LHC is built to let scientist see how matter behaved a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang. The LHC will produce tiny patches of very high energy by colliding together atomic particles that are travelling at very high speed.
It’ s a machine which weighs more than 38,000 tonnes and runs for 27 km in a circular tunnel 100 metres beneath the Swiss/French border at Geneva. LHC project is supported by an enormous international community of scientists and engineers and was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) The construction lasted for 12 year (from 1994 to 2006 ). The direct total LHC project cost is EUR 2.9 bn (USD 3.9 bn).
Achievements and failures of LHC
On 10 September 2008 LHC started for the first time, but nine days later, operations were halted due to a serious fault between two superconducting bending magnets. Although no one was hurt and there was no danger to the public, the once-supercooled magnets were one hundred times warmer than they should be and optimal vacuum conditions had been lost. LHC was shutdown for one year. On 19 March 2010 it started again colliding protons at three times the previous record energy level on March 30. It didn’t fail, didin’t create a black hole and it didn’t end the world. But … scientists say the first results from this high collision rate may be published only within a few months.
CERN will run the LHC for 18-24 months. As soon as scientists have re-discovered the known Standard Model particles (quarks, leptons), the LHC experiments will start the systematic search for:
1. The Higgs boson – a hypothetical massive scalar elementary particle. Higgs is a particle, or set of particles, that might give others mass.
2. Sparticles. According string theory every partner has a partner particle or sparticle (supersymmetry).
3. Dark matter. Particles of dark matter passes right though ordinary matter as if weren’t even there. The LHC dectectors won’t register them directly but will notice that some energy had been lost.
4. Extra dimensions. Ordinary particles moving through space could rattle in the extra dimensions and we ‘d perceive this as a new set of particles. Or some particles might escape into extra dimensions.
5. Black holes. Energetic particles might collapse into tiny, short-lived unstable black holes or even wormholes.
6. The unknown. Something unimagined: new particles, forces or processes which transform our understanding of the universe.