The Large Hadron Collider’s biggest claim to fame is the 2012 discovery of the Higgs Boson particle, which physicists believe interacts with and gives other particles their mass through the Higgs Field. The Higgs discovery was hailed at the time a monumental breakthrough in particle physics, worthy of the 2013 Noble Prize of Physics. But there is much more going on at the LHC than most might assume, with many of the collider’s bleeding edge technology applied to everyday situations. From the development of efficient superconducting wires to proton accelerators for precise cancer treatment, the science at CERN is far-reaching.
And all of it happens across a diverse campus of physicists, engineers, IT specialists and scientists from all around the globe.
Founded in 1954, CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research – an international collaboration of like-minded scientists unravelling the mysteries of the early universe.
CERN’s main campus sits on the outskirts of Geneva and is just a few minutes away from the open border crossing into France.
Because of CERN’s international status and importance to the scientific community, the campus feels more like a diplomatic neutral ground than it does an entirely European facility.
CERN and the LHC: These are the tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider
CERN and the LHC: Paul Collier is the head of beams at CERN
CERN and the LHC: When the collider runs, the tunnels are extremely radioactive
And the sheer size of the undertaking at CERN means the collaboration’s facilities and experiments have to bleed over into the French side.
The LHC itself is a 16.6 mile-long (26.7km) racetrack of deep tunnels and accelerator pipelines running underneath France and Switzerland, hidden beneath the idyllic rural and mountainous landscape.
The tunnels are rarely accessible to the public and are highly irradiated when the collider is running but Express.co.uk was granted an opportunity to see them up-close thanks to the Science and Technology Facilities Council (SFTC).
The main collider tunnel is entered through one of the many facilities peppered around the area, which are home to the seven collider experiments at CERN.
At a depth of 328ft (100m) underground, the LHC’s characteristic blue pipelines run along the entire length of the circuit.
This is the UK’s national laboratory of particle physics
Because of the tunnel’s length, engineers and scientist move between the entry shafts on electric bicycles or motorised three-wheelers. It is the fastest way to move around in the subterranean environment.
The blue pipelines house the world’s most powerful magnets and superconductors, which direct and control two beams of supercharged protons speeding around the LHC.
The magnets and superconductors are cooled down by hundreds of tonnes of supercooling helium gas pumped into the pipes.
According to Paul Collier, head of the LHC Beams department, each pipe weighs in at an impressive 36 tonnes.
CERN and the LHC: Engineers drive around on motorised vehicles or bicycles
CERN and the LHC: The Hadron Collider is 100m below the ground
CERN and the LHC: There are eight access shafts into the LHC
When the LHC is in operation, the proton beams are accelerated to within a fraction of the speed light, completing around 11,245 cycles of the whole circuit every single second.
The protons are then brought together at one of the LHC’s seven collider machines – cathedral-sized experiments where physicists used incredibly sophisticated detectors to find traces of primordial particles.
When the protons collide at high speeds, scientists recreate on a miniaturised scale the conditions of the early universe to break down the protons and see what new particles emerge in the process.
The main four experiments at CERN are the A Toroidal LHC Apparatus (ATLAS), LHC-beauty (LHCb), A Large Ion Collider Experiment (ALICE) and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS).
ATLAS and the CMS where the two colliders responsible for the detection of the Higgs Boson in 2012.
CERN and the LHC: Scientists measure their personal radiation levels once a month
CERN and the LHC: Scientists from around the world work tirelessly at CERN
CERN and the LHC: Engineers are designing upgrades for the LHC for 2021
The CMS is a large, general-purpose detector studying the Standard Model of particle physics as well extra dimensional and dark matter sciences.
The machine is built around a monstrous solenoid magnet, with various detectors running through it like the layers in an onion.
The LHCb on the other hand, is focused on studying the properties of the so-called beauty quad or b quark.
In March this year the LCHb reported the world’s first discovery of a pentaquark particle, which belongs to a mysterious particle family known as exotic hadrons.
CERN and the LHC: The LHCb experiment (top) and CMS experiment (bottom)
Today, the experiments are turned off and are undergoing crucial repairs and upgrades needed for the LCH’s next run of experiments.
Operations at CERN involve three year periods of beam activity, or runs, followed by two years of upgrades, maintenance, repairs and data analysis.
The LHC is expected to kick back into life for Run Three sometime in the summer of 2021, by which time each of the seven colliders will be upgraded to deal with more intense experiments ahead.
Physicists at CERN refer to this upgrade as High Luminosity, which translates into more collisions and more particles being produced.
CERN and the LHC: The control room for the LHCb experiment
CERN and the LHC: The Hadron Collider runs for three years followed by a two year break
CERN and the LHC: CERN’s laboratories is where new technology is being invented
To date, the LHC remains the only facility of its kind in the world, which can produce the Higgs Boson.
And scientists hope to uncover a wider variety of rarely-seen-before particles such as the short-lived pentaquark at the LHCb experiment or even get a glimpse of the extremely elusive dark matter.
Whatever each of the experiments may hope to achieve, none of it would have been possible without global financial contributions and the tireless work of physicists at CERN.
The UK itself was a founding member of the collaboration in 1954 and groundbreaking accelerator work done at places such as Swansea University in Wales has proven invaluable towards the development of the LHC.
CERN and the LHC: The CMS collider detected the Higgs Boson together with ATLAS in 2012
CERN and the LHC: A prototype particle detector component for the CMS
CERN and the LHC: Security at CERN’s facilities is strict because of the experiments going on
As such Britain continues to play a vital role in everything that happens at CERN with important technology and engineering provided by UK-based universities and companies.
Physicists such as Dave Barney, who works on the CMS collider, are currently in the process of having to prototype and construct a new type of particle detector to go inside the CMS’s Electromagnetic Calorimeter (ECAL).
At another CMS facility just across the road, magnet expert and engineer Glyn Kirby has a hands-on role in developing new magnets for the High Luminosity upgrade.
Because of this, Stephanie Hills of the SFTC said: “This is the UK’s national laboratory of particle physics.”
Source link : https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1119820/CERN-Geneva-LHC-pictures-large-hadron-collider-photos-CMS-ATLAS-Higgs-boson
Publish date : 2019-04-28 09:20:23