For this entry, I must respond to research concerning my senior exit project topic, which as posted in the previous entry, is CERN’s (European Organization for Nuclear Research) Large Hadron Collider (LHC). I think I need to start explaining the basics of the LHC, why it was made, and what it is hoped to be used for.

First, some quick facts on the make-up of the LHC. The LHC’s circumference is 26,659 meters and has 9300 magnets inside of it. When the LHC is going at full power, the particles will travel around the accelerator at a mind-boggling 11,245 times a second (which is 99.99% the speed of light) and there will be roughly 600 million particle collisions per second. The internal pressure of the large machine is ten times less than the pressure on the moon. The lifespan of the LHC is predicted to be 15 years and all the information collected from experiments will fill around 100,000 dual layer DVDs every year it’s used. More information can be found on the LHC FAQ Guide.

One of the many reasons the LHC was created, was to mimic the conditions just after the supposed Big Bang. It accomplishes this by colliding two beams at very high energy head-on. The ordinary matter of the Universe consists of atoms, which are made up of a nucleus containing positively charged protons and neutral neutrons. These protons and neutrons are made of quarks bond together by gluons. Today the gluon bond is extremely strong, but it’s suspected in the moments following the Big Bang, the Universe was too hot and energetic for the gluons to bond, making a dense quark-gluon plasma. In the LHC’s ALICE experiment, ions will be collided at extremely high speeds hopefully so physicists will be able to analyze the make-up of this hypothesized quark-gluon plasma.

Six different experiments, including ALICE, are intended to be carried out on the LHC. These include ATLAS, CMS, LHCb, TOTEM, and LHCf. I’ll elaborate on the other five experiments in posts to come.

I think the maths and sciences are probably the most important subjects to study and finance for any country. Any attempt to make progress and learn more about the beginnings of our Universe is a step towards the future and towards new thoughts and ideas. In the words of John Dewey in the Quest for Certainty (1929), “Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.”

Questions, comments, advice?

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