Beneath breathtaking alpine vineyards, some 20 miles outside Geneva, 8,000 scientists are working at a feverish pace to complete the world's largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, nicknamed the "Lord of Rings," which will probe deeper into matter than ever before. Its purpose is to replicate the birth of the universe.
The experiment will be carried out deep inside the earth in a circular tunnel 27 kilometers long, 100 meters below the surface of the Earth, where CERN physicists will crash sub-atomic particles whirring around at the speed of light and monitor the debris of these tiny crashes, to calibrate the relationship between matter and energy and learn more about how matter came into existence in the first few seconds of the Big Bang.
The ultimate prize is to find an almost particle, the Higgs-Boson - a particle they hope will show what matter is- a key part of what physicists call the Standard Model of the subatomic world, which consists of six quarks, six leptons, five known bosons and a postulated sixth, the Higgs bosons, plus three of the four physical forces: the strong and weak nuclear forces and electro-magnetisism. The Higgs boson, a quantum particle, may or may not actually exist; it was invented by Scottish scientist Peter Higgs as a simple way of endowing particles with mass. But discovering this source of mass is the reason for the existence of the fourteen trillion volts of energy the LHC will achieve.
The Higgs boson is predicted to have enormous mass, greater than 180 proton masses, which is why is has never been in an experiment prior to the LHC,
Due to switch on in 2008, the LHC it will ultimately collide beams
of protons at an energy of 14 TeV . Beams of lead nuclei will be also
accelerated, smashing together with a collision energy of 1150 TeV.
A TeV is a unit of energy used in particle physics. 1 TeV is about the energy of motion of a flying mosquito. What makes the LHC so extraordinary is that it squeezes energy into a space about a million million times smaller than a mosquito.
Posted by Casey Kazan.