The world’s biggest particle smasher, Large Hadron Collider has restarted experiments with nearly doubled energy levels in a key breakthrough.
- The tests at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) came after a sweeping two-year revamp of the collider and will help scientists to study fundamental particles, the building blocks of all matter, and the forces that control them.
- During its next run, researchers will look for evidence of new physics and probe supersymmetry — a theoretical concept informally dubbed Susy; seek explanations for enigmatic dark matter and look for signs of extra dimensions.
Large Hadron Collider:
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.
- Built by: European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
- Aim: to allow physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics and high-energy physics, and particularly prove or disprove the existence of the theorized Higgs boson and of the large family of new particles predicted by supersymmetric theories.
- The LHC consists of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way.
- Inside the accelerator, two high-energy particle beams travel at close to the speed of light before they are made to collide.
- The beams travel in opposite directions in separate beam pipes – two tubes kept at ultrahigh vacuum. They are guided around the accelerator ring by a strong magnetic field maintained by superconducting electromagnets.
- The electromagnets are built from coils of special electric cable that operates in a superconducting state, efficiently conducting electricity without resistance or loss of energy. This requires chilling the magnets to ‑3°C – a temperature colder than outer space. For this reason, much of the accelerator is connected to a distribution system of liquid helium, which cools the magnets, as well as to other supply services.
- 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 kilometres apart with such precision that they meet halfway.
The LHC tunnel is located 100 metres underground, in the region between the Geneva International Airport and the nearby Jura mountains.
Sources: The Hindu, http://home.web.cern.ch/, Wiki.