Explained: What is the Great Hadron Collider, now ready to answer the fundamental questions of particle physics?

Explained: What is the Great Hadron Collider, now ready to answer the fundamental questions of particle physics?

The world’s most powerful particle collision, the Great Hadron Collider (LHC), will begin breaking down protons at unprecedented levels of energy on July 5th.

Scientists will record and analyze the data, which is expected to provide evidence of “new physics” – or physics beyond the standard model of particle physics, which explains how the fundamental structural blocks of matter interact. Managed by fundamental forces.

Of the LHC

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

Structurally, it is a 27-kilometer-long road buried 100 meters underground on the Swiss-French border. In its operational state, it radiates two beams of protons at approximately the speed of light to the opposite side in a ring of superconducting electromagnets.

The magnetic field keeps the protons generated by the superconducting electromagnets in a rigid beam and guides them along the path as they travel through the beam pipes and eventually collide.

“Before the collision, another type of magnet is used to bring the particles closer together to increase the chances of a collision. They come together halfway through, ”said the European Atomic Energy Agency (Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or CERN, in French), which operates a particle-accelerating complex containing LHC.

Since LHC-powered electromagnets carry almost as much current as electric bolts, they must be kept cool. The LHC uses a liquid helium distribution system to keep its vital components ultracold at minus 271.3 degrees Celsius, which is much colder than the interstellar space. Given these requirements, heating or cooling a large machine is not easy.

The latest upgrade

Three years after it was shut down for maintenance and renovation, the Collider was replaced in April. This is the LHC’s third cycle, and from Tuesday, it will operate at an unprecedented energy level of 13 teraelectron volts per hour for four years. (A TeV of 100 billion, or 10-to-the-power-of-12, is an electron volt. The electron volt is the energy that is given to an electron by accelerating it through a potential difference of 1 volt.)

“We deliver 1.6 billion proton collisions per second for ATLAS and CMS experiments,” said Mike Lamont, CERN’s head of speed and technology, according to an AFP report. This time, the proton beams will be less than 10 microns – human hair is about 70 microns thick – to increase the rate of collision.

(ATLAS is the largest general-purpose particle detector experiment in LHC; the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment is the largest international scientific collaboration in history, with the same objectives as ATLAS, but which uses a different magnet system design. .)

The old run and the discovery of the particle of God

Ten years ago, on July 5, 2013, CERN scientists announced the discovery of the Higgs boson, or particle of God, to the world during the first round of the LHC. The discovery ended a decades-long search for a “forceful” subatomic particle, and proved the existence of the Higgs mechanism, a theory that was put forward in the mid-sixties.

This led to Peter Higgs and his colleague Franواois Englert being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013. The Higgs boson and its associated energy field are thought to have played a significant role in shaping the universe.

The second round of LHC (Run 2) started in 2015 and lasted until 2018. The second season of data acquisition produced five times more data than Run 1.

The third part will see 20 times more collisions than run 1.

‘New Physics’

After the discovery of the Higgs boson, scientists began to use the collected data to look beyond the standard model, which is currently the best theory of the most primitive building blocks in the universe and their interactions.

Scientists at CERN say they don’t know what Run 3 will reveal. The hope is to use collisions to understand the so-called “dark matter”.

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It is believed to be a hard, hopeful particle that makes up most of the universe, but is not fully visible because it does not absorb, reflect, or absorb light.

“CERN scientists hope it could be seen even temporarily in the debris of billions of collisions, as the Higgs boson was,” CERN scientist Luca Mulgeri told Reuters.

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