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CERN LHC Explained

CERN LHC Explained

How did the CERN LHC (Large Hadron Collider) get its name?

Well, it's a large machine, about 27 kilometers in circumference and it collides protons. So it's a large collider. But what about the Hadron in the name? It turns out the proton belongs to a class of particles called Hadrons. The Proton is a Hadron. So we have a Large Hadron Collider.

Why collide protons anyway?

The LHC accelerates two counter-rotating beams of protons. The beam pipes are about 27 kilometers in circumference, and the protons are steered around the machine by powerful superconducting magnets. The two beams intersect at 4 points and this is where the protons collide head-on. The "debris" from the collision is measured to learn about the internal structure of the proton.

It turns out the proton is a complex object. Current theories describe it as composed of three quarks bound together by an incredibly strong force field, called the color force that's mediated by particles called gluons.

So colliding protons may result in their constituent quarks colliding and yielding information about quarks. The gluons could also collide and yield more information about the force field within the proton.

When the LHC is operating this dashboard lets you see the machine status in realtime. Check machine energy, ramps, beam status, machine tests, detector status and more. Plus, see messages from machine operators.

Watch LHC operations in realtime

It doesn't matter if you're a physicist or simply an interested consumer.. the mystery of the proton is this.. why does nature pack such amazing complexity into such an incredibly small object?

Some interesting LHC stats:

Proton are bunched in the LHC beam pipes. There are 2808 bunches in each pipe.
Each bunch is about 30 cm long and contains approx 10^11 protons.
After full acceleration the protons are traveling at 0.999999991 the speed of light.
There are 1,232 superconducting dipole magnets, each 15 metres long and weighing 35 tonnes. Field strength is 8.3 tesla with a current of 11,080 amps.

Content written and posted by Ken Abbott

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