Large Hadron Collider doesn't cause the end of the world - yet

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Large Hadron Collider doesn't cause the end of the world - yet

Post  Soleil on Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:21 am

The scientific world held its breath this morning as 20 years of intensive work and 5 billion of funding were put to the test.

The LHC should, if all goes well, be the world's most powerful particle accelerator, generating particle beams seven times more energetic than any previous machine, and around 30 times more intense when it reaches design performance, probably by 2010.
Inside the tunnel, two beams of particles travel at close to the speed of light with very high energies before colliding with one another. The beams travel in opposite directions in separate pipes - two tubes kept at ultrahigh vacuum.
They are guided around the accelerator ring by a strong magnetic field, achieved using superconducting magnets. These are built from coils of special electric cable that operates in a superconducting state, efficiently conducting electricity without resistance or loss of energy.
A key part of commissioning the atom smasher was chilling these magnets to a bracing -271C - a temperature colder than outer space. For this reason, much of the accelerator is connected to a distribution system of liquid helium, which cools the magnets.
Thousands of magnets of different shapes and sizes are used to direct the beams of particles around the accelerator.
These include 1232 dipole magnets of 15 metres length which are used to bend the beams, and 392 quadrupole magnets, each up to seven metres long, to focus the beams. Just prior to collision, another type of magnet is used to 'squeeze' the particles closer together to increase the chances of collisions.The particles are so tiny that the task of making them collide is akin to firing needles from two spots more than six miles apart with such precision that they meet halfway.
From here, and within the next month or so, the beams inside the LHC will be made to collide at four locations around the accelerator ring, corresponding to the positions of the huge particle detectors, the "eyes" of the vast machine.One of them is ATLAS, which is about 45 meters long, more than 25 meters high, and weighs about 7,000 tons. It is about half as big as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and weighs the same as the Eiffel Tower or one hundred empty jumbo jets.
If all the data from ATLAS would be recorded, the information would fill 100,000 CDs per second. This would create a stack of CDs 450 feet high every second, which would reach to the moon and back twice each year.
The ultimate goal, planned for next month, is for beams of protons circulating in opposite directions to be slammed into each other inside four massive particle detectors.
The ensuing shower of subatomic debris could answer fundamental questions about the nature of the universe, including whether it has more than three dimensions and whether a "God particle", which gives mass to all matter, exists as thought.

The LHC is said to be as significant as the HUBBLE TELESCOPE or Einstein'Theory of Relativity!!
IT signals the birth of a New technology emerging in the Decade

Here's how the LHC could bolster or banish five of the most common theories:

1.The Big Bang Theory

Best Case: The Large Hadron Colliders' ALICE experiment successfully creates quark-gluon plasma, a substance theorized to have existed just milliseconds after the Big Bang. By generating temperatures more than 100,000 times hotter than the sun, scientists hope to watch as this particle goo cools and expands into the particles that we know. That could help scientists answer why protons and neutrons weigh 100 times more than the quarks they're made of.
Worst Case: Scientists inadvertently make a micro black hole, and the earth is quickly erased from existence. Just kidding: scientists at CERN and elsewhere have ruled out the possibility that the LHC will create any kind of doomsday scenario. The black holes that the LHC could theoretically create don't even have enough energy to light up a light bulb. On the other hand, the U.K.'s Astronomer Royal put the odds of destroying the world at 1 in 50 million (which puts it in the realm of possibilities but still not as likely as hitting the lottery).

2.String Theory

Best Case: Scientists detect certain types of supersymmetric particles, aka sparticles, which physicist Michio Kaku calls, "signals from the 11th dimension." This would show that string theorists have been on the right path and that the universe really is made up of the four dimensions we experience and then seven others that unite the forces of nature.
Worst Case: String theory's basic assumptions are violated. The LHC will be the first particle accelerator capable of allowing scientists to study W bosons, the elementary particle responsible for the weak force. If they don't scatter in certain ways, it'll be back to the drawing board for a generation of string theorists, or as one physicist told New Scientist, "If we see these violations, people will start working very feverishly on some sort of alternative that will produce these violations."

3.The "Our Universe Is Not Alone" Theory

Best Case: If scientists find a long-lived gluino, the postulated supersymmetric partner of the gluon, one group of scientists argues that it can be seen as a "messenger from the multiverse" and will lend support to the theory that our universe is just one of many. (Keep in mind though: not everyone is buying this interpretation.)
Worst Case: Our universe really is alone. Or even worse: it's lonely.

4.The Dark Matter of the Universe Theory

Best Case: Astrophysicists currently believe that 96 percent of the universe is made up of dark matter and energy that we can't see and can barely detect. Dark matter alone is estimated to compose 26 percent of the universe, only we have no idea what it's made of. It has been postulated that the neutralino is the best candidate for dark matter. Many physicists hope that the neutralino -- which, if it exists, will be relatively easy to produce -- will make an appearance in the debris inside the CMS or Atlas detectors, confirming the theory of dark matter.
Worst Case: Proudly, physicists announce that they've observed dark matter's unmistakable signature inside one of the LHC's detectors. But over the next few weeks, the reality sinks in that they've actually made a measurement mistake. Some physicists don't think that the LHC will be precise enough to measure any dark matter that it's lucky enough to create.

5.The Standard Model of Particle Physics
Best Case: With the standard model so well elucidated, perhaps a curveball is in order. Sean Carroll of Cosmic Variance notes, "There is almost a guarantee that the Higgs exists, or at least some sort of Higgs-like particle," so perhaps the best scenario would be finding the Higgs-like particle rather than the Higgs itself. That wouldn't be such a radical break from the model such that all previous work is too highly devalued, and at the same time it could open new physics frontiers.
Worst Case: The Higgs boson -- the long-postulated particle that is supposed to give mass to particles -- is finally confirmed. Sure, discovering the Higgs at the LHC would be neat, but it would basically just confirm a lot of what physicists already know, without really pushing the science: Boring. Some scientists have even said that their worst case scenario for the entire collider project would be finding the Higgs and just the Higgs.
Here's A view of Our future
The Tunnel under France


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Soleil

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