Mar 3, 2008

A New World with NEW PHYSICS

Remember CERN? remember Dan Brown's Angels & Demons which opens to the cold-blooded murder of a scientist(Leonardo Vetra)in the laboratory of a sprawling establishment in Switzerland? Yeah you hit it right, CERN( originally Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, later European Organization for Nuclear Research) is what we're talking of. They are in the news again, not for being in another of Dan Brown's books but for completing the installation of a gigantic apparatus, the results of which, once they start pouring out may change forever our perception of Physics and of the world altogether.

For the news clippings you may go HERE but for more of my commentary move on.

CERN has 7931 scientists & engineers who come from 500 universities & 80 nationalities, not to mention the half of the world's particle physics community who work on experiments conducted at CERN. A 100-tonne wheel, the last piece of an ambitious experiment that scientists hope will help unlock the secrets of the universe, was successfully lowered into an underground cavern on Friday the 28th of February. ATLAS is a particle detector, the largest of four detectors being hooked up to the world's most powerful particle accelerator the Large Hadron Collider ( LHC, which since it's inception has been hailed as the accelerator of the future, the same one talked of in Dan Brown's book, whose results led to the death of the scientist. What the results will do to our world let's wait n see.). ATLAS is part of five experiments which, from mid 2008 on, will study what happens when beams of particles collide in the 27 km (16.8 miles) long underground ring LHC. It measures particles called muons (an elementary particle inside the nucleus with negative electric charge and a spin of 1/2.) expected to be produced in particle collisions in the accelerator,it being one of the largest collaborative efforts ever attempted in the history of Science. The LHC will recreate conditions just after the Big Bang, which many scientists believe gave birth to the universe, by colliding two beams of particles at close to the speed of light.

CERN Speak:

"As particles pass through a magnetic field produced by superconducting magnets, this detector has the ability to accurately track them to the width of a human hair," .

* Experiments at the LHC, which lies in an underground tunnel, should allow physicists to take a big leap on a journey that began with Isaac Newton's law of gravity.

* Science has been unable to explain fundamental questions such as how particles acquire mass. The experiments will also probe the mysterious dark matter of the universe and why there is more matter than antimatter. Soon the first protons will be smashed together and the secrets of our universe will begin to unravel.

* CERN spokesman James Gillies said: "We know about 4 percent of the universe. The LHC might teach us about what the remaining 96 percent of the universe is made of, what cosmologists call dark matter." Once the LHC starts running, it is likely to take a year for "new physics" to emerge, he said. Useful science is expected to continue unfolding for up to 20 years.

Facts for your own awe:

# Before the LHC can be started up, some 38,000 tonnes of equipment must be cooled to minus 456 degrees Fahrenheit for the magnets to operate in a superconducting state. This is done using many tonnes of liquid nitrogen and liquid helium.

# The World Wide Web aka Internet (remember project ENQUIRE, initiated by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau in 1989?) a system of internationally distributed, hypertext-linked materials on the Internet, was originally developed at CERN during the 1980s.

# The largest machine in the world...
The precise circumference of the LHC accelerator is 26,659 m, with a total of 9300 magnets inside. Not only is the LHC the world’s largest particle accelerator, just one-eighth of its cryogenic distribution system would qualify as the world’s largest fridge. All the magnets will be pre-cooled to -193.2°C (80 K) using 10,080 tonnes of liquid nitrogen, before they are filled with nearly 60 tonnes of liquid helium to bring them down to -271.3°C (1.9 K).

# The fastest racetrack on the planet...
At full power, trillions of protons will race around the LHC accelerator ring 11,245 times a second, travelling at 99.99% the speed of light!! Two beams of protons will each travel at a maximum energy of 7 TeV (tera-electronvolt, OMG!!), corresponding to head-to-head collisions of 14 TeV. Altogether some 600 million collisions will take place every second.

# The emptiest space in the Solar System...
To avoid colliding with gas molecules inside the accelerator, the beams of particles travel in an ultra-high vacuum – a cavity as empty as interplanetary space. The internal pressure of the LHC is 10-13 atm, ten times less than the pressure on the Moon!

# The hottest spots in the galaxy, but even colder than outer space...
The LHC is a machine of extreme heat and cold. When two beams of protons collide, they will generate temperatures more than 100,000 times hotter than the heart of the Sun, concentrated within a minuscule space. By contrast, the 'cryogenic distribution system', which circulates superfluid helium around the accelerator ring, keeps the LHC at a super cool temperature of -271.3°C (1.9 K) – even colder than outer space!

# The biggest and most sophisticated detectors ever built...
To sample and record the results of up to 600 million proton collisions per second, physicists and engineers have built gargantuan devices that measure particles with micron precision. The LHC's detectors have sophisticated electronic trigger systems that precisely measure the passage time of a particle to accuracies in the region of a few billionths of a second. The trigger system also registers the location of the particles to millionths of a metre. This incredibly quick and precise response is essential for ensuring that the particle recorded in successive layers of a detector is one and the same.

# The 100-tonne wheel was lowered down a 100-metre shaft and aligned within a millimeter of other detectors

# The most powerful supercomputer system in the world...
The data recorded by each of the big experiments at the LHC will fill around 100,000 DVDs every year. To allow the thousands of scientists scattered around the globe to collaborate on the analysis over the next 15 years (the estimated lifetime of the LHC), tens of thousands of computers located around the world are being harnessed in a distributed computing network called the Grid.

Because of it's massive length, the CERN establishment starts in Switzerland but the underground tunnel extends further upto 8 km into France.


joe said...

good stuff dude!!

joe said...

good stuff dude!!