Wednesday, September 10, 2008

World's Largest Particle Accelerator Starts off Successfully

This isn't directly related to nuclear power but I'm sure many of the readers here could appreciate the significance and relevance of this event. 


From the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN):
The first beam in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN was successfully steered around the full 27 kilometres [17 miles] of the world’s most powerful particle accelerator at 10h28 this morning. This historic event marks a key moment in the transition from over two decades of preparation to a new era of scientific discovery.

...

Starting up a major new particle accelerator takes much more than flipping a switch. Thousands of individual elements have to work in harmony, timings have to be synchronized to under a billionth of a second, and beams finer than a human hair have to be brought into head-on collision. Today’s success puts a tick next to the first of those steps, and over the next few weeks, as the LHC’s operators gain experience and confidence with the new machine, the machine’s acceleration systems will be brought into play, and the beams will be brought into collision to allow the research programme to begin.
What is the purpose of the LHC?
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a gigantic scientific instrument near Geneva, where it spans the border between Switzerland and France about 100 m underground. It is a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. It will revolutionise our understanding, from the minuscule world deep within atoms to the vastness of the Universe.

Two beams of subatomic particles called 'hadrons' – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the particles created in the collisions using special detectors in a number of experiments dedicated to the LHC.

There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but what's for sure is that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe.
Pretty sweet stuff! For more information, check out the page on Wikipedia.

Update:

9 comments:

votetheday.com said...

Gosh, it's just a big atom smasher, and the possibility of something dangerous to happen is too small for that something to happen ;) If it would have been real risk, scientists would inform us, or take measures against it, or, after all, never would have thought of taking this idea to reality. So stop worrying, listen to common sense and do not let this rumor by fools take over your mind. There are very little people, who really believe it's dangerous - http://www.votetheday.com/polls/worlds-largest-particle-accelerator-experiment-214/, but looks like panic is a very hazardous thing, ha?

Norske-Division said...

"Russian nuclear reactor designs are the safest in the world"

"Oh, the chance of a resonance cascade is exceedingly small" - Half Life Scientist

"We really don't think there is much danger presented by the teleporter" - Doom Scientist

These bad scientists and fictional scientists are always going around saying something isn't actually dangerous. But games like the one I mentioned as well as Chernobyl have made some people think that scientists are a bunch of cow-boys who are willing to bet everything on what they think is a small risk. That scientists are stuck in an out of touch world of odds, not understanding the real consequences of what they're doing.

Now, I don't think this. But I understand how this popular perception came about.

KLA said...

To answer the question wether the LHC is dangerous, I found this link:

http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/

Rod Adams said...

My beef with "big science" has nothing to do with the potential for hazard.

It simply baffles me that so much time, money and human ingenuity has been expended for so little gain!

With all of the very real problems in the world needing the efforts of the best solvers we can find, why do physicists think that the equivalent of accurately counting the angels on the head of a pin is worth $10 billion?

Though I work in a field where the word "billion" rolls easily off of the tongue, it is always worth remembering just how big $10 billion is.

Fill the Rose Bowl (100,000) people. Write each of them a check for $100,000. That is $10 billion.

David Bradish said...

Rod,

I'm of the complete opposite opinion on this. $10B invested by 20 countries is nothing. We should always be exploring and inventing and progressing. That's how we've gotten to be where we're at today.

We don't know what we don't know and it will take more and more money to achieve new things.

I found some Einstein quotes that seem to fit this situation::

"The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible."

"Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."

Johan said...

Rod there is no way of knowing what gains might come out of big science. Just like no one could even guess fission existed before it was discovered. The day humanity stops doing real, fundamental science is the day all progress grinds to a halt.

Not to forget, the sheer joy of understanding how the universe works is priceless in itself even if it has no application.

Anonymous said...

I Just want to chill in the rose bowl and collect $100,000 now. I am not worried, I just want my money now Rod.

Love Hasersys

t7 said...

>Rod< how many weeks of Iraq war expenditures is LHC worth? ~4 weeks without casualties?

Anonymous said...

I just want to know why? With a hefty price tag like that, why is it so important to know how it all started and who cares. It started and we are all here. Everyone from small towns to big cities are losing jobs and kids are going hungry. But this is going to solve the problems? What are the adverse reactions? Does it matter? Even better, why isn't it mentioned? I guess every test is a success and there will be more jobs created from this. So where does the money come from to build this particle accelerator. This type of science belongs in a lab and no further until the people of the world can say if its safe. But that's my opinion, right.