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Inner workings of LHC particle accelerator
by ellengwallace

At the same centre in which the World Wide Web was invented, scientists have almost completed “one of the largest research projects that the world has taken on” to uncover the secrets of creation.

Spanning 24 years from planning to construction, costing almost four billion euros and able to become colder than outer space, the European Research Center for Particle Physics (CERN) is building the world’s largest particle physics accelerator in Geneva.

Named the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) , this 27 km ring-shaped tunnel, located 100m below the ground, will be used to create a “mini Big Bang” to determine what happened when the universe was created. Protons will shoot around the tunnel at light speed and the result of their collisions will be recorded by 25m high detectors. Scientists hope to capture any new particles resulting from the collision as well as noting their direction, charge and energy. The assumption is that the high collision energy from the colliding protons will create a Higgs boson, which gives matter mass. “Since, according to the theory of relativity, mass and energy are equivalent, more energy than usual is required to produce Higgs bosons. [And] up to now, accelerators have not achieved energy at this level.”

“We are looking, as it were, for dinosaur particles from the prehistory of the universe,” states CERN physicist Rolf Landua, Head of the Education Group.

Construction is expected to be complete later this year and the first results of their studies are expected next year. Will this experiment finally put a rest to the debate between big bang theorists and creationists? Probably not. But it’s an exciting step toward understanding the creation of the universe.

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Lincoln Kim

Lincoln Kim is a member of the healthcare and life sciences team of the MaRS Venture Group. He evaluates and supports the development of technology platforms and commercial market opportunities of start up and emerging companies, facilitates collaboration among research groups and between research scientists and industry. See more…