Crikey Clarifier

Apr 26, 2012

Crikey Clarifier: what’s the Large Hadron Collider up to?

Since early April the Large Hadron Collider has been back up and running in the hope of discovering the answers to some of science’s most elusive questions. So what's it looking for, asks Dylan Barber?

Since early April the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been back up and running at increased velocity in 27 kilometres of tunnels under Geneva, in the hope of discovering the answers to some of science’s most elusive questions.

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One thought on “Crikey Clarifier: what’s the Large Hadron Collider up to?

  1. wayne robinson

    Lisa Randall wrote recently a very good book ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’, which contains large sections on the Large Hadron Collider, how it’s constructed, how it works, what they hope to find …

    Apparently, and it’s mind boggling, nucleons (neutrons and protons) don’t just consist of 3 quarks. They consist of 3 quarks in a sea of virtual particles – particle/antiparticle pairs, which flash into and out of existence in times too short to measure.

    And most of the mass of nucleons is in the virtual particles, not the ‘real’ quarks.

    And most of the nucleons consist of empty space.

    So when two protons traveling at almost light velocity in opposite directions collide, most of the time the quarks and virtual particles sail on past each other without interacting. Occasionally a quark or a virtual particle might collide, the rest of both nucleons continuing unimpeded.

    It’s collisions of the virtual particles that are of interest, because they have most of the mass, hence energy, and potentially generate the most interesting novel high energy particles, if they exist.

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