Large Hadron Collider Goes Online

13/01/2009 04:25 PM

On Wednesday, the team of scientists at CERN, Switzerland, gave the LHC its first test run, successfully sending a beam of particles all the way round the tunnel at 99.999998 percent of the speed of light. In October, two such beams will be made to collide at similar speeds, and the researchers hope to recreate the first few seconds of the big bang. The reaction may reveal new dimensions, dark matter, and what is known as the "God particle"--the Higgs boson. The particle is the only one in the Standard Model of particle physics to have never been observed, and is thought to be the reason that particles (and hence us) have mass.

The theory says that the Higgs boson comes into and out of existence all the time and one can think of them as clinging to other particles and giving them mass.

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The LHC is the world's most complicated machine occupying a giant ring on the French-Swiss border.  It is 27 km around and almost 100 meters deep.

Since it is so complicated, it is probable that it will not yield results for many months.  The fun begins in October.  For a great look at what is expected, you can tune into two lectures from the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo Ontario.  Just click on these links and find out what's going on in the world below our world.

Ellis and Orr on the LHC

Nima Arkani-Hamid on What can be expected of the LHC