Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on TwitterThe LHC or Large Hadron Collider is the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. In its main experiment, two beams of high-energy protons will be brought to a head-on collision. A proton is a type of hadron. Hence, the LHC is more specifically referred to as a hadron accelerator.
Each beam is made up of trillions of protons, traveling more than 99.99% of the speed of light. This speed is so fast that even if the LHC’s circumference stretches up to 27 km, it will only need 90 microseconds for each proton to complete one lap around it. That practically translates to about 11,000 revolutions per second in this hadron accelerator.
Each proton will be carrying up to 7 TeV of energy. Thus, some 14 TeV of energy will be involved in just one collision. In the realm of particle physics, high energies are required to probe into the innermost (and tiniest) regions of sub-atomic particles. This is because the energies that bind each particle at these scales are very large.
Other experiments will also be conducted in the world’s largest hadron accelerator. Among them are ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS), ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment), and Large Hadron Collider beauty, to name a few. There are 6 major experiments all in all.
The construction of the LHC comes at a time when the speed and storage capabilities of computers have evolved exponentially compared to those existing two decades ago, when the idea of this colossal hadron accelerator was first conceived.
In one year alone, the LHC is expected to churn out 15 petabytes (15,000,000,000,000,000) of data. For comparison, most of our hard drives are only up to a few Gigabytes. Even typical servers go up to only the Terabyte (1,000 Gigabyte) range. To achieve this, some 33 different countries are being tapped to take part in a distributed computing and storage infrastructure. This will be known as the LHC Computing Grid (LCG).
The top computer centers will be located in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, the Nordic countries, Spain, Taipei, UK, and USA. This will allow scientists in these countries to have faster access to the data gathered in the experiments.
Scientists working on the LHC are hoping to provide answers to questions that have branched out of particle physics’ Standard Model. Questions involving the origin of mass, unknown entities like dark matter and dark energy, and nature’s bias against antimatter, matter’s almost unknown partner are hoped to be answered through this hadron accelerator.
You can read more about the hadron accelerator here in Universe Today. Here are the links:
Read more about the LHC on its official websites:
Here are two episodes at Astronomy Cast that you might want to check out as well: