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Large Hadron Collider

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When information was first brought to the attention of worlds’ people, it was a machine that many feared would end our planet as we knew it. But the truth is, the Large Hadron Collider is forever changing the way we study physics using its’ six different particle detectors to give physicist a better fundamental understanding of the particles that make up our universe and how they interact with each other. Once upon a time, about 13.75 billion years ago, a miniscule area of densely compressed and heated material created a Big Bang. In less than a fraction of a second, every building block to our universe existed. These building blocks or subatomic particles can be found in every single piece of matter there is to observe in our universe. Though physicist regularly deal with these atoms, they still have a lot of answered questions regarding them. These unanswered questions are the very reason for the conception of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). In 1994 the European Organization for Nuclear Research (or CERN) approved the project to build the LHC. It would take all of CERN, along with the collaboration of ten thousand scientist and engineers from one hundred countries around the world and a ball park figure of $5.5 billion dollars to complete the massive project (Higfield, 2008).

The finished project has a circumference of twenty seven kilometers and lies as deep as a one hundred eighty meters underground. Conceived in 1984, it would not successfully circulate its first beam until September 10, 2008. The LHC performs a total of six different experimental functions. For each of these experiments there is a corresponding particle detector. The first experiment detector is called ALICE. The data obtained by the ALICE will allow physicist to study quark-gluon plasma (CERN, 2008). Gluons make up plasma that holds quarks together. Quarks are what make up protons and neutrons. The quark-gluon plasma is what in turns holds everything in our Universe together. Physicists have never been able to observe this as it is probably really only ‘visible’ under extreme heat, like that which existed moments after the Big Bang. The second experiment detector is the ATLAS. The ATLAS is one of the more popular detectors as it is meant to shed light on a more romantic level of the Universe, the possibility of extra dimensions, dark matter and the ever elusive Higgs Boson.

One thought that many physicist have been trying to elaborate on is that the phrase ‘dark matter’ does not describe matter that has an evil agenda to destroy our Universe. But it is described in such a way because physicist feel like they have been ‘left in the dark’ in regards to what role it plays in our Universe, as it apparently is more common throughout space than any other material. More than 2900 scientist from 172 institutes in 37 countries work on the ATLAS experiment (CERN,2008). The third particle detector works exclusively alongside of the ATLAS detector to provide almost a reassurance of what the ATLAS’ data has shown. The main difference between the two is that the CMS detector uses different solutions and its own design of the detector magnet system. One can look at it as kind of like an answer key to compare results, to make sure that both detectors actually did come up with the same answers. The fourth particle detector is called the LHCb. The LHCb will be used to try and answer one of the most daunting questions in physics, why do we live in a Universe that appears to be composed almost entirely of matter, but no antimatter? The fifth particle detector is the TOTEM.

This detector is able to describe to the physicist the size of a proton as it is moving forward through the LHC. This is important to see the effects of the particles that are produced from the LHC beams. The TOTEM also is able to accurately measure luminosity of the LHC. The final detector is the LHCf. This experiment uses forward particles created inside the LHC as a source to simulate cosmic rays in laboratory conditions (CERN,2008). Though there are multiple teams of scientist from all over the world working with each of the six detectors, they each have one very large question to answer and one tiny item to unambiguously prove, the Higgs Boson. In 1964, a man by the name of Peter Higgs and his team of scientist proposed the existence of this particle. The Higgs particle is so important to physicist because if found, it would prove the existence of the Higgs Field. The Higgs Field is what is believed to be the reason behind what allows particles to have mass. One thing to understand in this section is that it is not necessarily the Higgs Boson that physicist are trying to find, it more about finding and understanding the Higgs field. When looking at an atom, we know that at the center of every atom is a nucleus.

Within the center of that nucleus are protons and neutrons. Outside of the protons and neutrons are orbiting electrons. The reason why the Higgs field is so important is because it has a non-zero mass, which allows for all of the elementary particles to have their own mass. This is so important, because if these elementary particles did not have any mass nothing, even the Universe we continue to experience, would exist. The ATLAS detector alongside the CMS should be able to help conclude once and for all if the Higgs Boson and Higgs Field really do exist. On 4 July 2012, both the CMS and ATLAS teams announced the discovery of a boson in the mass region around 125-126 GeV, with a statistical significance at the level of 5 sigma (CERN,2012). This meets the formal level required to announce a new particle which is “consistent with” the Higgs boson, but scientists are cautious as to whether it is formally identified as actually being the Higgs boson, pending further analysis which should be available by the end of 2012 (CERN,2012).

The LHC has not only been a beneficial factor toward the argument for the existence of the Higgs Boson, but it has also given physicist insight into some of the most dense material known in the Universe, Dark Matter. Dark Matter is known to be throughout the entire Universe. It is the force that molds the shape of the galaxies and it also accounts for about five times of the mass throughout the Universe, yet it cannot be seen. Physicist and cosmologist alike are looking for supersymmetry or SUSY particles with the LHC. Because such high energies are used during the experiments of the LHC, sometimes unknown particles are made visible. Such particles would be ones that physicist had no idea existed, they feel that the possibility of the unknown particles that supersymmetry allows to exist could be the answer behind the dark matter as they cannot identify any particles that it has with the ones that they already know of.

The Large Hadron Collider could be the start of a new Renaissance Age for mankind. A time when great people walked the Earth, people like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Today teams of scientist and engineers are getting ready to shut down for the long winter. Until the next beam is sent through the Large Hadron Collider physicist will continue to study the data they have received and apply it to their respective fields such as theoretical physics, quantum mechanics, particle physics and many other areas. By the end of this year some hope to have the evidence need to prove theories like the Higgs Boson, if this can be accomplished, that will be one of the most exciting doors science has been able to open.

 What kind of introduction did you write for your expository essay? What other types of introductions might be appropriate for this kind of essay? What makes your introduction type more effective than another introduction type for your particular essay? It was very important to me that this captured the reader’s attention. Though I may have a passion for the LHC myself that does not mean that others reading it do, so, I knew that I really needed to hook the reader in. My introduction is an example of two different types of introductory paragraphs. I know this because I gave my paper to a few friends and family member to read and I wanted their unbiased feedback. Some of them came back and from what they told me, I concluded that they read it as me arguing a point against others. Some others came back to me and from what they said I concluded that they understood it as a story anecdote. I have hope that I have also succeeded in answering both of your questions Mr. Funaro.

What kind of conclusion did you write for your expository essay? What other types of conclusions might be appropriate for this kind of essay? What makes your conclusion type more effective than another conclusion type for your particular essay? My conclusion is an example of a clever ending. I feel that I really put the cherry on top with the reference to Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. I am sorry but I do not exuded modesty, when I am proud of myself I will say it. In any case, I really do believe that just about any of the other examples of conclusion paragraphs would have served their purpose and done just fine. I had hoped and from the feedback that I have received I have proposed an interesting thought for what the future may hold for us as mankind. I feel that it is catchy and if the reader remembers nothing else, they will remember the analogy between the LHC and the Renaissance Age.

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