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Inside CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC)


It was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) between 1998 and 2008 in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries, as well as hundreds of universities and laboratories. It lies in a tunnel 27 kilometres (17 mi) in circumference, as deep as 175 metres (574 ft) beneath the France–Switzerland border near Geneva, Switzerland.

CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the largest research instrument ever built and one of the most sophisticated pieces of machinery in the history of science. Accelerating protons and ions to almost the speed of light around a 27-kilometer (16.8-mile) ring, it smashes these particles together to probe the structure of our universe. As well as the accelerator itself, each of the LHC's four main particle detectors is a feat of engineering. The largest ATLAS (detailed below) weighs 7,000 tons, packing in six specialized subdetectors fine-tuned to track the showers of minuscule particles produced by proton collisions at its heart.  
Magnet system Gigantic coils produce a magnetic field inside the detector, bending the paths of particles.

Muon spectrometer only travel to the outer reaches of ATLAS, where the spectrometer tracks their paths

Calorimeters The electromagnetic and hadronic calorimeters gather further data on the energy of particles and how far they travel

 The huge amount of data generated by LHC's detectors is then processed by the Grid a global network of over 200,000 computers. After three years' worth of particle collisions, CERN's physicists finally confirmed the existence of the famous Higgs boson, and the LHC shut down in early-2013 for a well-earned break. But it's not over yet, engineers are giving the atom smasher an upgrade, allowing it to almost double the energy of its collisions when it starts up again in 2015. Higher- energy collisions will boost the LHC's chances of pinning down some of the rarest particles in existence. For example, physicists hope to spot dark matter, the inscrutable substance they believe makes up a quarter of our universe's mass.

Beam pipe The LHC accelerates protons, which speed around in opposite before inside particle detectors.

Interaction point one collision in a billion produces a Higgs which rapidly into lighter particles that radiate outwards

Inner detector Highly sensitive devices made of silicon map the trajectories of charged particles.

The rebooted LHC will also go on the prowl for supersymmetric particles, whose existence would validate supersymmetry, the leading theory for what happens beyond the realms of our current understanding of physics. According to this model, each particle we know is paired up with an as yet undiscovered "superpartner. None of these mysterious particles showed their faces during the LHC's first run, but the physics community will be hot on their heels when the search resumes in 2015.

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