Large Hadron Collider as the name suggests is the world's largest and the most powerful particle accelerator. Initiated on 10 September 2008, the large hadron collider is still in regularly developing stage and is the latest addition to the CERN's (European Organization for Nuclear Research) accelerator campus which is located on France- Switzerland border near Geneva. The LHC is made up of a 27 kilometer ring which comprises of superconducting magnets along with powerful particle accelerators which helps to boost the energy of particles along the way.
The working of LHC is complex yet the methodology is simple. In the LHC, two energy particle beams are made to travel at the speed of light and then they are made to collide. These energy particles travel in opposite directions in two separate pipes which are ultrahigh vacuumed to avoid any kind of resistance to the particles. These particles are guided by a strong magnetic field which is ensured by superconducting electromagnets. These particles travel in the accelerator ring. The electromagnets are built from electric cables which are made from special coils. For these magnets to work efficiently and conduct electricity without any loss of energy, these agents are chilled to the temperature of -271.3 oC which is even colder than outer space. The chilling of these magnets is done by using liquid helium, which not only cools magnets but also other parts of the mega machine. In LHC thousands of magnets of varied sizes are used to direct the particles. The large hadron collider comprises of 1232 dipole magnets of 15 meters which are used to bend the beam and 392 quadrupole magnets each of 5-7 meters of length which are used to focus the beams. Just before the collision another set of magnets is used to squeeze the particles so that the chances of collision may increase. Colliding a particle in the LHC is like firing two needles in opposite directions from 10 kilometers apart and that too with such precision that they both meet halfway. All the technicalities, controls, services of the LHC are housed under one roof i.e. the control room at CERN. Controlled from here the beams are made to collide at four locations inside the accelerator ring. These four particle detectors are ATLAS, CMS, ALICE and LHCb.
Inside the accelerator around 3000 bunches of particles are accelerated which contains as many as 100 billion particles. These particles are so insignificant in the terms of size that colliding them is a very cumbersome task and even the chances are low. At the time when these particles cross each other, only 40 collisions take place between 200 billion particles. These bunches crosses each other 30 million times in a second! The LHC thus collides around 1 billion particles per second (CERN, 2017; CERN, 2017).
The LHC has many benefits which includes Technological development, Workforce development and the Core science. The benefits derived from the research at LHC are discussed below in details: (CERN, 2017)
Apart from space exploration and solving the mysteries of outer space, the research conducted at LHC can give the answer to many unsolved theories and questions which haven't been answered before. Followings are the examples of how development of this technology has benefitted the technological development:
The challenges which were faced by the scientists at the LHC campus were not ordinary and required an entirely unique set of skills and techniques of problem solving by the workers. Cultivated by core science, this technical mindset and expertise can be a valuable skillset to the field of particle acceleration and many other research fields. Additionally it was not possible to develop the LHC if it wasn't for the workers who left their industry job and contributed in the development of the technology (BBC News, 2015).
The benefits of technology and workforce are of short term and are achieved by the pursuit of problem finding will to the questions remained unanswered. So the funding of such projects depends on the perceived scientific benefits. The concept and the theoretical assumptions of LHC will not only help us to get to know universe but it will also increase our understanding about nuclear physics and quantum technology by accelerating the particles at speed which has never been done yet. Following are the aims of Large Hadron Collider:
The research conducted at CERN will also help to know about the concept of anti-gravity drives i.e. the ability to fold space which is just a speculative assumption for now. The practical benefits of LHC are still unknown so we will refer to the historical examples instead. From what is known is that the understating the theories like quantum field theory have generated many practical benefits in the past which are stated below:
The specialty of LHC is that it squeezes the energy of collision in a space million times smaller. The particles when collide produces the energy around 14V, but in LHC the researchers have been able to reach the level of 1150V which is higher than ever recorded in history. We can compare this achievement by taking an example from daily routine; the energy produced while we clap our hands is much more than what was achieved at CERN but it is evenly distributed around our palm. The achievement of LHC is that it has been able to produce the same level of energy but at a million times smaller space (CERN, 2017).
A structure like LHC is not possible to build without facing any challenges. The development of LHC faced engineering challenges across every virtual engineering discipline. The major challenge was placing and maintaining magnets and cryogenics which are discussed below (Collier, 2015; Schmidt & Vergara, 2002; Alonso, 2015):
After 25 years of hard work the LHC was commissioned at intermediate energy and performed well during the early stage of its operations. Even in the early stage, the machine was able to provide data which helped the scientists to discover and know the properties of the God Particle i.ee Higgs Boson. During the period of operations the machine also went under a two year shutdown period from 2013-2015. The machine is now in operational mode and the next shutdown will take place halfway in 2018. This period of operations has been very exciting and is expected to provide more specific data and answers to many questions. So it can be concluded that throughout its operational period the Large Hadron Collider has confronted many technical, engineering, operational and social challenges and has been successful in helping us to get to know the universe. This scientific invention can thus be stated as an engineering marvel which is expected to give many other insights in the future.
Alonso, I. B. (2015). HL-LHC challenges and impact in a nutshell. Hi Lumi HL-LHC Project.
BBC News. (2015, March 28). What is the point of large Hadron Collider? Retrieved 2017, from Bbc.com: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-32087787
CERN. (2017). CERN-Brochure. Retrieved from Cds.cern.ch: https://cds.cern.ch/record/2255762/files/CERN-Brochure-2017-002-Eng.pdf
CERN. (2017). The Large Hadron Collider. Retrieved from Home.cern: https://home.cern/topics/large-hadron-collider
Collier, P. (2015). The technical challenges of the Large Hadron Collider. Philosophical Transaction A Royal Society.
Schmidt, R., & Vergara, A. (2002). Machine Protection and Interlock System for the LHC. Grenoble.
The Telegraph. (2010, March 30). Large Hadron Collider hits problems as scientists bid to start high energy collissions. Retrieved 2017, from Telegraph.co.uk: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/large-hadron-collider/7537355/Large-Hadron-Collider-hits-problems-as-scientists-bid-to-start-high-energy-collisions.html
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