Broadcast Date: Tuesday 12th June 2007
Summary: CERN nears completion of Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle accelerator.
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Based near Geneva, CERN is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, and it will shortly complete construction of a Large Hadron Collider
To look at the very nature not just of matter, but anti-matter, dark matter and the forces that created the Universe, they are building the world’s largest particle accelerator in a circular underground tunnel that at 27 kilometres long, is the size of London Underground’s Circle line.
The length of the tunnel will enable the LHC to accelerate particles to enormous speeds in opposite directions and then bring two streams of protons into collision at close to the speed of light, creating conditions which should be a microcosm of those just after the Big Bang, thought to have created the universe 13 billion years ago.
A team of Particle Physicists from the University of Birmingham’s School of Physics and Astronomy are among scientists from over 500 academic institutions and companies involved in the LHC project and particularly in the workings of the Atlas and Alice detectors.
One problem is that with more than 40 million collisions occurring per second, the fastest computers and electronics can only record around 200 events, so one focus of the Birmingham team was to create what they call “trigger processors” to help decide which 200 events to study.
While Atlas will explore the fundamental nature of matter and the basic forces that shape our universe, Alice will look at the collision between the nuclei of lead atoms in particular, re-creating conditions immediately after the Big Bang, and look for a state of matter that existed then.
The programme to study the data collected from the Large Hadron Collider project is expected to run for ten years or more, and the researchers hope it will reveal many secrets about the creation of the Universe, and the nature of matter.
Atlas Detector & Detail
Alice Detector & Detail
Tunnels & cores
Graphics Tunnel ring,
Graphics particle collision
Interview Peter Watkins, Professor of Particle Physics
University of Birmingham
Interview Dr David Evans, University of Birmingham
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