Interesting Look into the Guts of the LHC

With the Large Hadron Collider scheduled to inject its first protons sometime in August, there have been plenty of articles written about it. Most of these articles are either aimed at the popular or scholarly levels, with little in between for the interested semi-knowlegeable student.  (And don’t forget the important question of whether tiny black holes produced in the LHC will eat our world.)

Well, John from Cosmic Variance has bridged the gap with an excellent article about his personal involvement with one of the detectors in the CMS experiment.  Even though I am generally not all that into “tech specs” about such experiments, I enjoyed this peek inside the actual life of the LHC.

It’s mind-boggling to think about the size of the LHC project.  Looking at the complexity and care involved in this one component, and extrapolating this to the thousands of other components involved in the experiment really brings you face-to-face with the magnitude of this undertaking.

I noticed in the article that the tentative date for sending the first protons through the accelerator (August 9th) coincides with the date that I move to begin graduate school.  I’m a big fan of poetic stuff like that, so I’m rooting for everything to stay on schedule so that the beginning of the LHC era coincides with the beginning of my venture into grad school.

I have heard my professors talking about the excitement that was found in physics departments across the world in 1976 as the J/Psi particle was being discovered, confirming the existence of the charmed quark.  I’m sure that was exciting, but there’s no way it can hold a candle to the excitement of what could be found at the LHC: the elusive Higgs boson, possibly superpartners, and who knows what else!


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