Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Should a problem develop, well, science can’t get it right all the time, can it?

To recreate the ‘Big Bang’ theory of Universe creation on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). While some fear that these experiments will lead to the destruction of Earth, physicists associated with the project from around the world have assured everyone that the experiments are safe.
CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, was founded in 1954. It is situated near Geneva, Switzerland on the Franco-Swiss border. The primary research conducted at CERN is focused on studying the origins and workings of the Universe primarily through experiments in physics.
LHC at CERN is the largest particle accelerator in the world. It is located 100 m (328 feet) underground straddling the Franco-Swiss border. The accelerator is 26,259 m (over 16 miles) in length and contains 9300 magnets. Testing on the LHC was finished earlier this year and tomorrow the real experiments begin.
Physicists will begin looking for the origins of the Universe by performing a series of experiments. Those experiments will hurtle
two beams of particles travel[ing] at close to the speed of light with very high energies before colliding with one another. 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, achieved using superconducting electromagnets.
Four different areas around the Collider will take measurements of the collisions for use in six different experiments. The largest two experiments,
ATLAS and CMS will be analyzing the multitude of particles created by the collisions.
Two smaller experiments,
ALICE and LHCb will look for "specific phenomena" like "quark-gluon plasma" and b-quarks. By analyzing these phenomena, scientists hope to learn more about anti-matter and the origins of the Universe.
The two smallest experiments
TOTEM and LHCf will look at protons or heavy ions that don’t actually collide but just brush past each other.
All of these experiments will involve thousands of scientists from universities and research laboratories worldwide. Since these experiments are expected to produce over
15 petabytes (15 million gigabytes) of data annually, CERN created a new faster Internet connected only to the organizations involved.
All of this data will eventually be housed at eleven major computer centers in France, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the Nordic Countries, Spain, Taipei, the UK and two sites in the U.S. This is one of the largest and fastest
grid computing networks in the world.
All of the fears about the earth being destroyed by black holes, strange matter or some other side effect from the LHC experiments have all been
So now we just wait and see what exactly makes up the universe. At the end of all of the experiments and crunched calculations we may have an idea if
Higgs boson particles really exist, the existence and make up of extra dimensions, and the makeup of dark
LHC FAQ in 140 Characters or Less

Q: WTF is a Large Hadron Collider?A: Hadrons are the parent family for protons and neutrons. The collider will smash protons together to see what they're made of.
Q: What are ATLAS and CMS and all these other acronyms?A: They are particle detectors. ATLAS and CMS are the big ones. Each detector is designed to carry out a set of experiments.
Q: How does the Large Hadron Collider work? A: It smashes particles moving at near the speed of light together. Then, detectors look for very rare particles in the wreckage.
Q: Is smashing things together to look for progressively smaller and rarer particles really how particle physics is done?A: More or less: yes. Theoretical physicists work out the math. The experiments get run to see whose math matches the world.
Q: Gimme the stats on the Collider? Factoid stats. A: 17 miles around. 9,000 magnets. 7,000 scientists. $10 billion. Operating temp: -456.25 F. Power used: 120 MW. Network: 1.8+Gb/s.
Q: Who paid for the Large Hadron Collider?A: You did! But not nearly as much as your European cousins. The US contribution stands at $531 million. Total cost: $10 billion.
Q: How does a particle detector work? A: They work like digital cameras with 150 megapixels taking snapshots 600 million times a second! Then algorithms look for interesting stuff.
Q: Is there an end 'product/goal' that the average Joe will eventually see from these experiments? ie:teleportation? A: Not directly, but confirmation that physicists understand the universe would be nice. And you never know. The engineering can lead to other things.
Q: When you smash particles at nearly the speed of light isn't that going to release a lot of energy?A: Yes. The highest-energy collisions will reach 14 trillion electron volts.
Q: How many particles are actually colliding? A: Hacked Wikipedia: The beam pipes contain 1.0×10-9 grams of hydrogen, which would fill the volume of one grain of fine sand.
Q: Is the Large Hadron Collider a threat to human civilization and the existence of the Earth? A: No. Einstein's relativity says it's impossible. And, just in case, studies of highly-energetic cosmic rays hitting earth rule it out, too.
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