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The Most Complex Machine Ever Built

Large Hadron Collider

You’ve no doubt already heard of the (LHC) due to the recent resurgence in mainstream media. This is partly because it is a really big deal, connecting us to the earliest moments of the formation of the universe, and partly because some people are worried that when scientists, physicists, and researchers fire it up that it will end reality… and as a result these people are pretty active. That’s , the world will not be consumed by tiny black holes. Rest easy.

So, what is the LHC for? It has been constructed to recreate the conditions that occurred just after the Big Bang. In recreating these early moments of the universe we may be able to understand how the first particles were conceived, and thus help us better understand how the universe actually works. The LHC will do this in a very controlled environment, and be heavily measured, recorded and monitored. It will allow us to repeat this experiment with frequency, greatly increasing our ability to study and understand. In short, this is an enormous step towards enlightenment, understanding the nature of reality, and will fill in many of the theoretical blanks that physicists and cosmologists have struggled with for a long, long time. In the name of epistemology, this is a very, very good thing.

LHC Facts:

  • It is made up of 2000 super conducting magnets
  • It will utilize the most complex cameras ever made
  • These cameras will be able to capture impossibly small time horizons
  • The LHC is the culmination of over two decades of work
  • Construction involved 7,000 physicists from 80 nations
  • It is located 175 meters underground and is 27+ kilometers in diameter
  • Once operational, protons will be accelerated close to the speed of light
  • Every second there will be 800 million proton collisions
  • Only a fraction of these matter, and will captured by cameras mentioned above
  • Particles created will exist for a thousandth, of a thousandth, of a billionth of a second
  • These collisions will generate heat 1 million times hotter than the core of the sun

To achieve this, the LHC team has had to build an incredibly complex machine of enormous scale. Just one of the superconducting solenoids contains more iron than the Eiffel Tower. There are many of these making up the LHC particle accelerator. The receptors and detectors are housed in giant rooms that are as big as cathedrals. The cost of this project was of such a magnitude (estimates range in the $6 billion and up range) that the United States halted its own Superconducting Super Collider back in 1993.

Excellent video of the LHC and the planned experiments (part 1 of 3):

2 Responses to “The Most Complex Machine Ever Built”

  1. schneiderism » Blog Archive » Test Firing of The LHC Says:

    [...] test fired the Large Hadron Collider, which I wrote about previously this year, earlier this week and, minus a couple minor electrical issues, the test [...]

  2. schneiderism » Blog Archive » The Biggest Computer Grid in The World Says:

    [...] I posted about the Large Hadron Collider (here and here) and how upon completion it became the most complex machine ever built by mankind. The LHC [...]

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