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The Acronym LHC – “Large Hadron Collider”

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The Large Hadron Collider happens to be the largest particle accelerator in the world. A particle accelerator is a machine that uses electric or electromagnetic fields to accelerate subatomic particles to very high speeds. Particle accelerators can also be used to generate gamma rays and high energy X-rays. The LHC is highly controversial, as many debate whether or not it is worth the risks it poses and the cost required to maintain it. Robert Woodrow Wilson once said “This new knowledge has all to do with honor and country but it has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to help make it worth defending.” The theory on the LHC is that this particle accelerator could extend the knowledge of science beyond anything ever thought of by the greatest of scientific visionaries.

The Large Hadron Collider occupies the CERN center, near Geneva, Switzerland. CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, although the acronym stands for the French “Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire”. The council was founded in 1952 and their main objective was to develop an organization for physics in Europe. Currently, there are 25 countries who have participated in the LHC initiative; however, only 19 of the countries are currently active. This is because four of the countries were suspended from CERN after the UN Embargo in 1992 and two of the countries repose to observing the accelerator project. Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are all of the countries that have current status in the organization. Israel, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Yugoslavia, the European Commission and Unesco do not have a current status on the project, but have been a part of it before or may be later.

The LHC has the same goal as any other scientific instrument that has ever been invented: to expand the field and knowledge of science. This main goal is based on a theory called the Standard Model which is a description of the particles of matter and three-fourths of the “basic forces of the universe.” This model makes certain divinations about the universe that, when analyzed, look to be correct; however they have not yet been proven. The prediction that scientists are most hoping to prove with the LHC is the Higgs Boson particle. The Higgs Boson particle is also called the “God particle” because it is believed to be the sole cause of all the mass in the universe. The “God particle” is not the only thing scientists are looking to find though; they also are searching for dark matter. No one seems to know much about dark matter because it is extremely difficult to observe. Scientists are sure of one thing: dark matter is unlike stars, because it doesn’t emit light, only darkness, hence the ominous title. Attempting to study something so big or something that would generally occur out of the realm our solar system requires special maintenance. The LHC must be kept at a temperature of -273.3 degrees celsius which is in fact chillier than space itself.

When it comes to new scientific discoveries, someone or some group of people will always be dubious. As humans, we have a general fear of the unknown, which would explain why some people are concerned about the possible threats that could become major problems due to the LHC. The list of fears includes, but is not limited to: vacuum bubbles, cosmic rays, strangelets, microscopic black holes, and magnetic monopoles. While the fear can technically be warranted based on the unknown and spontaneous problems that could occur, it is highly unlikely that anything like that would happen. Scientists test the theories in a safe location. Vacuum bubbles appear to be a major cause of trepidation. The idea of a vacuum bubble is that the LHC could cause space to become more stable, consequently knocking the human race into extinction. As terrifying as that sounds, there has never actually been a vacuum bubble in the visible universe. This means that the probability of the LHC creating one is next to nothing. This fear has been inflated by media and speculation and has been turned into something that can sell newspapers or magazines. All else aside, this fear can still be justified simply because there will always be that small chance that something will go wrong.

The science behind the particle accelerator or the Large Hadron Collider is truly innovative. learning of a particle that could literally be the cause of anything having a weight on the planet and that people have exceptionally irrational fears when it comes to new discoveries in science and technology is satisfactional. People can only hope to get past their fears to see the LHC proliferate into something so incredible, so impossible. Everything that is being put into this project will eventually come back to amaze us all; hopefully through the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle or dark matter.

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