Large Hadron Collider becoming ”colder than deep space”

July 20th, 2008 - 11:13 am ICT by ANI  

London, July 20 (ANI): The Large Hadron Collider, which is being built by the European Organization for nuclear research (CERN) in a tunnel below the French-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland, is entering the final stages of being lowered to a temperature of 1.9 Kelvin (-271 degree Celsius), which is colder than deep space.

The most powerful physics experiment ever built, the LHC will re-create the conditions just after the Big Bang. It will search for the Higgs boson - the so-called “God particle”.

According to a report by BBC News, currently, six out of the LHC’’s eight sectors are between 4.5 and 1.9 Kelvin, though all sectors of the machine have been down to 1.9 Kelvin at some stage over the last few months.

By comparison, the temperature in remote regions of outer space is about 2.7 Kelvin (-270 degree Celsius)

The LHC has thousands of magnets which will be maintained in this frigid condition using liquid helium.

The magnets are arranged in a ring that runs for 27km through the giant tunnel.

Once the LHC is operational, two particle beams - usually consisting of protons accelerated to high energies - will be fired down pipes running through the magnets.

These beams will then travel in opposite directions around the main ring at close to the speed of light.

At allotted points along the tunnel, the beams will cross paths, smashing into one another with cataclysmic force.

Scientists hope to see new particles in the debris of these collisions, revealing fundamental new insights into the nature of the cosmos and how it came into being.

According to Roberto Saban, the LHC’’s head of hardware commissioning, in order to obtain high magnetic fields without consuming too much power, the magnets were required to be “superconducting”.

This is the property, exhibited by some materials at very low temperatures, to channel electrical current with zero resistance and very little power loss.

Helium exhibits spectacular properties at 2.2 Kelvin - becoming “superfluid”. This allows it to conduct heat very rapidly, making it an extremely efficient refrigerant.

No particle physics facility on this scale has ever operated at such low temperatures. But, so far, the hardware was performing as predicted, explained Saban.

The machine’’s cool-down should take another two weeks to complete, provided no serious problems are found. Electrical testing of the magnets may take another couple of weeks. (ANI)

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