Saturday, 12 April 2008

CERN LHC Open Day

Last weekend we took the train to Geneva for the CERN Large Hadron Collider open day, the last open day before it 'turns on' in Summer this year.

This is the accelerator they hope will locate the Higgs boson particle, which is the theorised particle physicists hope will form the last piece of the standard model.

The accelerator itself is 27km in circumference, so of course you only see a small part of the ring itself. Indeed we didn't actually see any of the acclerator ring at all, but only the ATLAS detector, which is just one of many experiments taking place around the ring. Its difficult to fully grasp the scale of this experiment, as you can only ever see a tiny part of it at once (the cool looking building is actually an exhibition hall, ATLAS being housed in a more warehouse looking building).

Anyway we were lucky to even get in to see ATLAS, since the public transport was in complete disarray and it took hours to get there and back from Vevey (Linda helpfully kept reminding me that we should have driven there instead). Apparently 50,000 people came to see the LHC that day.

We bought ourselves a few bits and bobs to remind ourselves of our trip, and will be able to look back on it in 10 years time when they finally announce whether they have actually found anything in their experiments. I believe they are already planning an even bigger accelerator!

2 comments:

The Swan said...

Oh - that is awesome! I am way jealous (again...hehe). So what's your thinking on the 'tiny-black-hole-will-swallow-the-earth' theory? http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/29/science/29collider.html

Mark said...

Our assumption is that we're far enough away here in Vevey to be safe from tiny little black holes.