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Re-Starting the Large Hadron Collider
Submitted by: Nancy L. Young-Houser
For those who have not heard of the Large Hadron Collider between Switzerland and France, it is located about 100m underground, a particle accelerator which is used by physicists to study the smallest known particles---considered by scientists to be the fundamental building blocks of all things. Two beams of hadrons, or beams of subatomic particles, will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator which gain energy with every circular lap.
Considered the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator, this "Big Bang machine" was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). The underground tunnel is 17 miles in circumference and 570 miles beneath the surface. Funded and built by collaboration with over 10,000 scientists, engineers, universities, and laboratories from over 100 countries.
The purpose of the LHC is to produce the Higgs boson, which is considered to be the last unobserved particle predicted by the Standard Model, in addition to the new particles predicted by the Standard Model possible extensions at the LHC. Based on proton-proton collisions, the LHC program runs shorter running periods of one month per year, with heavy-ion collisions included in the program. Not excluding the lighter ions, the baseline scheme actually deals with lead ions.
After making its first proton beam circulation on September 10, 2008, the Large Hadron Collider came to a grinding stop in September 19, 2008, when it was linked to a faulty electrical connections leading to a major super-cold helium leak costing at about £20million. Because of this, 53 of the magnets that were used to accelerate sub-atomic particles around the machine's 17-mile underground tunnel have been brought to the surface to be cleaned or repaired. Additionally, two "suspect connections" are being worked on by engineers since they were found, hopefully allowing the LHC to begin producing data later on this year to the end of 2010.
CERN scientists estimate that one the LHC is running and the Standard Model is correct, it may produce a Higgs boson every few hours. Taking up to three years to connect sufficient data, at this time hopefully the Higgs boson unambiguously will be discovered. Plus about one year or more will be required before sufficient results have been gathered for meaningful conclusions.
With the LHC producing 15 million Gigabytes of data on an annual basis, it is too much data for individual PCs to run on. For this reason, CERN and its partners in universities on a global basis are developing the LHC Computing Grid (LCG) linking major computing centers around the world together. The exceptions are what they call volunteer computing by high-energy physicists who tap into the combined power of the Internet users.
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Nancy L. Young-Houser is a professional writer and illustrator, in addition to providing a home for dogs on all levels of need with her best friend, Sandra Marquiss. Her writings include controversial subjects as part of the soapbox she has carried around since childhood, never leaving home without it. Part of this soapbox is her website WayCoolDogs.com filled with lots of four-legged information!