Wednesday, September 10, 2008

LHC-Latest Human Creativity..

This day marks the beginning of an important development in the field of Physics as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was switched on earlier today. The basic understanding will be provided by the simple explanation, though the processes involved in the operation are complicated to understand at the very first stroke. The idea is to collide two beams of same particle type with each traveling in a direction opposite to the other. I was startled by the very sight of the structure inside which a man was standing and he was almost invisible in front of the size of the massive tunnel like structure. The scientists say the two beams travel at almost the light speed, 99.9% the speed of light precisely, and they cross each other 300 million times a second while going around the circular tube that weighs around 4.4 million pounds and runs over a length of 27miles beneath the surface along the Franco-Swiss border. During this process, 600 billion collisions occur every second. Only the particles of the same type which can either be protons or bipolar ions, collide with each other and the superconductor arrangements shielding the collider for the whole of its span of 27miles prevent cross collisions and guide the particles through the ring arrangement.I consider this the greatest experiment man has ever conducted because the popular theories on light say light cannot be bent. They have been proven utterly wrong. This makes it a bigger leap in the world of science than what Armstrong managed to take on the moon's surface. But, the credits should be passed on to those theories that are wide off the mark which led the scientists to go beyond just experimentation and a blend of imagination and knowledge has given birth to this baby that plays with particles. Scientists have started imagining really big about the smallest of particles visible to human minds that they have all the information about the characteristics of protons and electrons and they even know how to guide these particles using the biggest device that man has ever constructed. The cross sectional view of the collider is as seen below :

If you didn't notice, there is a man standing right at the bottom of the giant tunnel. Though the structure looks massive, the light beams which will be traveling through the collider will be as thin as a strand of hair. The remaining empty space which is designed to satisfy the condition very much closer to vacuum, gives room for the sub-particles that are released during collisions. I wonder how much space these sub-atomic particles would occupy once released. If they are really sub-atomic and of the size my mind could land upon, then this tunnel structure is extremely extravagant for them. But, scientists can't be so sensible and that satisfies me with what would really happen inside the 27 mile tunnel. I read an article that said a single light beam emitted from the source of protons or ions charged to 7 TeV, is supposed to contain 3000 bunches that would go around the tunnel in a time interval which if measured would be the smallest value ever measured in terms of time. When the two beams are made to propagate in opposite directions, the particles in the beam are said to cross each other about 300 million times a second, making way for 600 billion collisions per second. This spells the release of what are known as 'God particles' at an awe-inspiring rate along with the emission of tremendous energy. To neutralize the energy and to bring them within the permissible energy bands, detectors and neutralizers are used all around the LHC, having 6 main detector points.


Producing the God Particles is the main purpose of this $7.7 billion project. The particles get the name for the reason that the Universe emerged from these particles. Thus, the objective of this 'beyond a common man's imagination' kind of scientific expedition is to produce the condition that prevailed immediately after 'The Big Bang' that led to production of basic building blocks of this Universe. The experiment can more closely be encountered as the one that compresses Big Bang within a 27 mile tunnel that is placed beneath the earth. But, this time, we can be sure of one thing. Several Gods in the form of scientists all over the world at different stations are available to monitor and control the functioning of the LHC which would soon turn into a gift from European Organization of Nuclear Research to understand the structure and the working of this ever expanding Universe.

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