Perhaps the whole world knows the most grandiose scientific construction in Europe. This is the Large Hadron Collider, which was built near the Swiss city of Geneva.
Before its launch, there were many panicky rumors about the coming end of the world. They also said that the installation would cause irreparable harm to the ecology of Switzerland. However, the years go by, the collider works, but the world remains the same. Why was such a huge and expensive structure built? Let’s figure it out.
What is the Large Hadron Collider?
There is nothing mystical about the design of the Large Hadron Collider or the LHC. This is just an accelerator of charged elementary particles, which is necessary for the acceleration of heavy particles and the study of the products formed when they collide with other particles.
There are more than a dozen similar installations all over the world. In particular, Russian accelerators in Dubna near Moscow and in Novosibirsk.
The LHC was first launched in 2008. But because of an accident that happened soon, he worked for a long time at a low power capacity. Only in 2015, it became possible to operate the unit at the design capacity.
Like almost all similar installations, the LHC is a ring-shaped tunnel. It is located at a depth of approximately 100 meters on the border between France and Switzerland. Strictly speaking, the LHC system includes two units, one of a smaller diameter and the other of a larger diameter.
The length of the large tunnel exceeds the dimensions of all other accelerators existing today and is 25.5 kilometers, which is why the collider was named the Big one.
What is the collider built for?
Modern physicists have succeeded in developing a theoretical model of the Universe that combines three fundamental interactions of the four existing ones and is called the Standard Model (SM).
However, it cannot yet be considered a comprehensive theory of the structure of the world, since the area that scientists called the theory of quantum gravity and which describes gravitational interaction remains practically unexplored.
By the way, the leading role in it, according to the theory, should be played by the mechanism of particle mass formation, called the Higgs boson.
Scientists around the world hope that the research carried out at the LHC will allow studying the properties of the Higgs boson experimentally. In addition, the study of quarks is of considerable interest – the so-called elementary particles that form hadrons. In particular, because of them, the collider was called the hadronic one.
How does the LHC function?
The LHC is a round tunnel that consists of a main and auxiliary rings. The walls of the tunnel are composed of many powerful electromagnets that generate a field that accelerates the microparticles.
The initial acceleration occurs in the auxiliary tunnel, but the particles gain the required speed in the main ring, after which the particles rushing towards them collide, and the result of their collision is recorded by highly sensitive devices.
As a result of numerous experiments, in July 2012, the leadership of CERN (European Council for Nuclear Research) announced that the experiments had detected the Higgs boson.
At present, the study of this phenomenon continues, since many of its properties differ from those predicted in theory.
Why do people need a LHC?
The construction costs of the LHC were, according to various sources, over $ 6 billion. The amount becomes much more impressive when you remember the annual operating costs of the installation. Why do you need to bear such significant costs, what benefit will the collider bring to ordinary people?
Research planned and already taking place at the LHC, in the future, may open access to cheap energy for people, which can be obtained literally from thin air.
This will be perhaps the most ambitious scientific and technological revolution in the history of mankind. In addition, by understanding the mechanism of the Higgs boson, humans may gain control over gravity.
Undoubtedly, the discoveries that will be made with the help of the Large Hadron Collider will not allow us to master the technology of converting matter into energy or create an anti-gravity aircraft right tomorrow – practical results are expected only in the distant future. However, experiments will make it possible to take a few more small steps towards understanding the essence of the structure of the Universe.