Final Detector in Place at the Large Hadron Collider

Article written: 29 Feb , 2008
Updated: 26 Dec , 2015

One of the most complicated construction projects ever attempted reached a major milestone today. The final large detector element for the ATLAS instrument was lowered into the Large Hadron Collider. And this baby’s big. Weighing in at 100 tonnes. When the collider finally comes online, this instrument will measure the cascade of particles generated in proton-proton collisions.

The ATLAS detector itself is enormous, weighing 7,000 tonnes and measuring 46 metres long, 25 metres high and 25 metres wide. It has 100 million sensors that will track all the particles that freeze out when protons are smashed together at tremendous energies.

And so today, the final element for ATLAS was plugged into its permanent home. It’s known as a “small wheel”, and there are two of them in the detector. Compared to the full ATLAS instrument, it only weighs 100 tonnes, and measures a mere 9.3 metres across.

Since the whole detector is located deep underground, engineers had to lower each piece down a 100 metre shaft. And they’ve been installing pieces this way since 2003. In the case of the small wheel, it was even harder to get it down.

“One of the major challenges is lowering the small wheel in a slow motion zigzag down the shaft,” explained Ariella Cattai, leader of the small wheel team, “and performing precision alignment of the detector within a millimetre of the other detectors already in the cavern.”

With all of ATLAS’ parts in place, it’s time to enter the commissioning phase. Researchers will test all of the parts together in preparation for the first tests this Summer.

By this time next year, physicists might have many more answers about the nature of gravity, dark matter, and nature’s preference for matter over dark matter. And I’m sure they’ll have even more new questions. But that’s how science works.

Original Source: CERN News Release

32 Responses

  1. MrBill says

    I’m so excited! I Just can’t hide it!

  2. Adam says

    First reported on this story in 1989. Kudos to all you for effort.

    May the future hold some interesting discoveries.

  3. Gman says

    Prepare for unforseen consequnces.

  4. Mike says

    In before Unforseen Consequences, Resonance Cascades and such.

  5. ebaums says

    we all gonna die

  6. Kliener says

    They’re waiting for you Gordon…In the test chamber.

  7. tay104 says

    inb4endofworld, blackhole, etc.

  8. Jovica Aleksik says

    “They’re waiting for you Gordon…In the test chamber.”
    …Evil zombie rays from hell, leaking out of the huge facility, will turn the complex and villages on the ground above to a Resident Evil location 😀

  9. Chuck Lam says

    Tracking particle production will be relatively easy. The challenge will be accurate interpretation of results which will most likely raise more questions than answers. I suspect every new particle mapped by this Hadron at max power can be “further split or fractured into smaller components.” Then what? A new higher powered collider?

  10. Melissa says

    Are these people stupid? I mean come on …. earthquakes, wtf are they doing ?

  11. Colin Hazelton says

    Sorry don’t you mean, this time next year they will have more questions?

  12. Quadrivium says

    Man, I would love to be there when they flip the switch.
    Talk about an Event Horizon, this thing is gonna rock the world… literally.
    Time to get out the water bong!

  13. ScepticTim says

    Great, it seems ATLAS is ready: how about ALICE and the other two detectors?

  14. dr who says

    I agree with “Quad” about being there!
    Well CERN, you buy, I’ll fly. As a MAJOR Physics event, shouldn’t you include a member of the General Public from the top 3 nations involved? The technology may be “just a couple of years” (HA!) ahead of public user access but, with the right imaginations more end-user products and tech. will be available for Patent. Oh yes, what is your plan to contain any “errent” particals?
    And, to all the Nay Sayers, isn’t this fun?!? Just imagine that Mankind Survives! Just think of what you will accomplish! With the proper imaginations and skills that you can be a part of.
    Just imagine it.

    Dr Who

  15. Chuck Lam says

    To Wuggy6X9, Not to worry! If your nightmare materializes, it will happen so fast you won’t know it.

  16. Andy MCGuckin says

    At last the ability to detect the elusive Higgs Boson, or at least infer its presence and then it’s all change for particle physics.

  17. Wuggy6x9 says

    France builds Doomsday Machine…This massive machine is a magnetic ring 27 kilometers in circumference: Ultimately, it will collide beams of protons at an energy of 14 TeV. Additionally, beams of lead nuclei will be also accelerated, colliding together with an energy of 1150 TeV. The LHC will be the most powerfull partical accelerator in the world.A terrorist would need only half of a gram of antimatter to be equally destructive as the Hiroshima bomb. If CERN’santi-matter factory were to blow up today it would only affect the regions bordering France and Switzerland.These black holes, the densest matter in the universe, will plummet to the very core of the earth, then, slowly at first, growing one particle, one quark at a time, but at an ever accelerating rate. Scientists have estimated that a stable black hole at the center of the earth could consume not only France but the whole planet in the very short time span of between 4 minutes and 30 seconds and 7 minutes.That age-old question: Will our planet disappear in the twinkling of an eye? – Now becomes a probability if and when the CERN facility is allowed to go on-line in 2008.On Tuesday, March 27, 2007, there was a devastating explosion deep in the tunnel at the CERN particle accelerator complex that actually blew a 20 ton magnet right off its mountings. The explosion filled the tunnel with helium and forced a mass evacuation of the facility.While the facility was supposed to go online during the summer of 2007, the new startup is tentatively summer of 2008 after 17 miles of magnets have been repaired or replaced. This explosion, to those of us who count ourselves among the worried masses, appears to be an ominous foreshadowing of what could eventually become the Second-Coming of the BigBang……………………………………………………………………………… Close you eyes and pictuer this. “The experiment quickly goes out of control, resulting in the creation of a new type of matter called strangelets which begins to consume and destroy all matter around it.As it bores it’s way through the EARTH man looks to the heavens for he has destoyed his home.The death roll of extinction grows from the bowels of the earth an eruption is imminent.The eruption altered the landscape wreaking havoc throughout the world spewing rocks, ash and smoke into the air in different parts of the globe and severely affect global climate with cataclysmic consequences for life human race is now in the endangered species list.The downward collapse of land at the eruption sites are as blackholes swallowing up everything around.As the magnetic core of the EARTH is exposed it collapses in on itself the moon is pulled towards EARTH.Any hope for survival is lost. ASTEROIDS,and other heavenly bodies start being pulled also striking the moon first that is now looming 8 times closer than it was 4 hours ago as they hit the debris thrown up from the surface is raining down on the EARTH fire instead of water.All over the globe the ASTEROIDS are striking the EARTH in succession,one right after another.The extinction of the human race!”

  18. Jamie becker says

    So the world ends this summer.

  19. Chuck Lam says

    Hey Fred! Slow down. Give Wuggy6X9 a break. He or she may be a sci-fi writer pushing our buttons.

  20. Richard says

    I think we are not taking this as serious as we shouls be, okay Wuggy6x9 idea might be a bit doomed, and there are theories that say that it should be okay, but i think we are trying to head inbto the future to fast and with it we are risking a massive amount, and would like to ask if Wuggy6x9 theory is true what would happen after the wearth is dealt with?

  21. Mortac says

    People fear the unknown. Science is to discover and explain the unknown. A project of this magnitude might seem intimidating, but rest assured, I think not you need to fear what will happen here. We are not getting sucked into a black hole or creating a new particle of destruction. We will make many new discoveries, but you’ll find in the end that there are no witches or black magic.

  22. fred says

    wuggy might be able to avoid such a catastophic event by learning to write English in a more coherent manner.

  23. Astrofiend says

    What is it about the LHC that brings out all the psychos?

    No more Greg Egan for you Wuggy6x9. You have an ‘interesting’ post , but have failed to consider the fact that particles are constantly slamming into Earth’s atmosphere with MANY times the energy that the LHC will be able to muster. Let me just state that again – UHECR particles, or the so-called oh-my-god particles, have been recorded with estimated energies of up to ~3×10^20 eV. That is at least two hundred thousand times more energetic than your 1150 TeV collisions. That the universe hasn’t already condensed into a soup of more exotic particles as you suggest may happen as a result of these UHECRs seems to indicate to me that, from the LHC at least, we have nothing to fear.

    On another note:

    “Chuck Lam Says:
    March 1st, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Then what? A new higher powered collider?”

    🙂 Hell yes! I’m already starting to dream about the next big collider, and the LHC hasn’t even fired up yet!

  24. Quadrivium says

    Whoa… slow down Wuggy6x9.
    When I said “time to get out the water bong”, I didn’t mean “time to fire up the water bong”!
    Your comment was quite entertaining.
    Keep up the good work, and watch out for that “new type” of matter you speak of.
    It’ll get ya every time.

  25. hiro says

    I feel the same way as you do, Astrofiend. I wonder when we’ll build a multi-PeV collider.

  26. Kevin says

    Where would the comedians be without all the doom sayers. Thanks for the laugh.

  27. The 327th Male says

    Wuggy is off the mark. The world won’t end due to the LHC creating a micro black hole. It will end because the experiment will open up the first “window to the future” that skynet will use to send T1000s back to exterminate us.

  28. Steven Turner says

    I don’t know where to start, but I need to start somewhere, thus would you take the time to read this? My name is Steven Turner, and I am a physicist in my own right. I started writing about psychology when I was thirteen years old and continued until I was twenty-two. I had not had a teacher of this, so I did all my examinations alone. When I was about twenty-three, my mind began changing focus towards the way our universe works. Again having no teacher, I had to figure it out alone. I wanted to determine how our atom works. I began testing personal theories about simple mathematical codes that the universe could use. Instead of trying to actually see what was going on in an atom, I tried to establish the only possible code that an atom could operate with. This seemed easier for I had no access to a collider, which I had no idea even existed at the time. I spent roughly three years figuring out a code that worked easily, simply, and well. Once I got this done, I signed up for a few classes at a college in order to slightly test my theories. I took a simple algebra class and a psychology class. I tried to show the math teacher some of my work, but not only did he seem to look at me as lesser than him, but he also seemed completely uninterested with my years of work. I suppose I really cant expect more from a teacher that’s just wants to teach his class, and pass no judgment, but I attained multitudes of universal information during attendance of the class. During my psychology class, it was as if I were at home, seeing things I had never noticed before. Within a few classes I noticed that the makeup of the mind was tightly comparable to the composure of the atom. I began connecting the known knowledge of psychology, with my theories of what I now call atomics, or universal mathematics. Soon I had begun creating something I would like to introduce to the world of science, as ((Psychological Atomics)). I believe I can explain how our minds follow the exact nature of atomic signatures, signals, transfers, disturbances, equations, and much more. I may not be a professional in the eyes of acknowledged world scientists, but I do have a great deal of heart for this. I believe that the universe is so simple that it may be easy to decipher its mechanisms by comparing everything we see around us. Mathematics is universal and associates with every natural world existence. Instead of just breaking the atom down I went straight for what I like to call the ((Bottom)). After briefly reading into some reports, I found that many call the bottom, the ((God particle)). I am trying to crack the atom code in a mobile home, within a small town of Arizona. I CAN DO IT!! All I need is a little time with professionals that I don’t know how to get in touch with. I have put atomics into algebraic and geometric formats and although I don’t have this code complete, I think I am closer than I should be. I can easily explain why light travels faster than sound, and why we don’t age while traveling at the speed of light. Time measurement is easy to define and calculate with this theory. I can make it complex enough to evade many, or easy enough for a grade school student to understand. I have over five hundred pages of journalism and diagrams to share with the scientific world, and whether or not it can ever be taken seriously, I would like to share it with someone. I am also timid to share it, in possibility that it will be stolen, but we all deserve and share the same knowledge together do we not? It doesn’t matter who figures these things out, it only matters that we do. I believe that I have a good idea of what happened seven steps before the Big Bang. This is all I am comfortable sharing at this point.

    Thank you,
    Your fellow physicist

  29. StitchExp626 says

    Hi Steven, the best thing that you can do with your knowledge is to begin structuring it together in the form of a Thesis, ad then take it to one of the universities and see whether you can use this material as the basis of a Ph D. If you can then you will have a supervisor to help improve your ideas and then be able to have your thesis published so that you get acknowledged for the work and others get to share your insights. Good luck.

  30. StitchExp626 says

    1. Introduction
    Set the scene and problem statement. Introduce structure of thesis, state contributions (3-5).
    2. Background
    Demonstrate wider appreciation (context). Provide motivation. The problem statement and the motivation state how you want the PhD to be judged – as engineering, scientific method, theory, philosophy, &c.
    3. Related Work
    Survey and critical assessment. Relation to own work.

    4-6. Analysis, design, implementation and interpretation of results
    7. Critical assessment of own work
    State hypothesis, and demonstrate precision, thoroughness, contribution, and comparison with closest rival.

    8. Further Work
    9. Summary Conclusions
    Restate contribution



  31. Ken says

    I really don’t want to end it all right now. Why is it left to a few mad scientists to decide whether the world goes on or not.
    This useless experiment should be stopped in it’s tracks!!

  32. PANAYIOTIS says

    ineed detector to find water underground fr moore than 400 feet
    csn u helpme

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