The Large Hadron Collider Journeys Into The Unknown
In fact, this complex machine was designed to advance the scientific knowledge of the Universe. The machine known as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is made of a unique construction of super conducting wire, iron, and steel.
The LHC was funded and built in collaboration with over 10,000 scientists and engineers from more than 100 countries as well as hundreds of international universities and laboratories.
The LHC is designed to be used as a laboratory in which parallel beams of protons will be forced to collide at close to the speed of light. The machine is designed to recreate the conditions at the instant after the Big Bang in order to better understand the processes that created the Universe.
The machine is an atom smasher and its intent is to resolve one of the most important scientific question facing man today, the question of how particles acquire mass and how they were forged at the start of the universe some fourteen billion years ago.
Consider that the moment of the Big Bang is of interest to both scientists and cosmologists alike. Indeed, it is the moment in time that may provide an insight into the complex mysteries of time, space, and ultimately religious belief.
Hadron's search will be aided by a network of 100,000 super computers called "The Grid". “The Grid”, which is nearing completion, will provide the greatest data processing capacity ever created to analyze information pouring from the world’s largest scientific machine.
Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) created "The Grid" because they realized that a single computer would not be able to cope with the massive amount of data that the Large Haldron Collider is expected to produce each year.
“The Grid” is designed to be able to tap into massive amounts of processing power, but the source of that power will change. Processing tasks will be distributed among eleven gateway computer centers in ten countries which will connect to more than one hundred forty sites. In fact, “The Grid” is the latest evolution of the Internet and the World-Wide Web.
However, not everyone is excited about the experimentation in the Large Haldron Collider. In fact, some are even afraid of a cataclysmic end result. Indeed, some experts fear that the risk of operating the LHC outweighs anything science might gain from the experiment.
While it is not possible to know what the exact outcome of the LHC experiment may be, there are scientists who believe that there is a real possibility of creating destructive theoretical anomalies such as miniature black holes.
They argue that these events have the potential to fundamentally alter matter and even destroy the planet. However, most experts agree that any dangerous anomalies created by the experiment will be well contained and instantly destroyed within the LHC chamber. A law suit to prevent the LHC from becoming operational for safety reasons was recently dismissed.
So, after twenty four years of planning and construction, on September 10, 2008 the LHC accelerated its first proton streams. However, the experiment was suspended within days, due to an unexpected equipment failure. As a result, the collider will need to be repaired and will not be operational again until next spring.
To complete repairs, one of the eight sectors of the giant machine will now have to return to room temperature (and pressure) for a magnet to be replaced. While a repair of the magnet itself would take no more than two days, it will take several weeks to warm up the surrounding environment and then several more weeks to cool it down again.
The magnets in the sector will have to be pre-cooled to -193.2°C using 10,080 tons of liquid nitrogen, before they are filled with nearly 60 tons of liquid helium to bring them down to -271.3°C (-456.25 F). Then, the LHC will have to undergo its normal winter maintenance before it can begin operating once again.
In the spring of 2009, the Large Hadron Collider, attached to the immense data processing capability of "The Grid”, should be ready to initiate its first scientific experiments. It is an event that will generate considerable excitement in the world of physics, information technology, religion, and cosmology.
The LHC is designed for fifteen years of scientific research for a journey into the unknown. Everyone should hope that it proves to be safe and that man's insatiable quest for knowledge has not compromised prudence and sound reason. Indeed, it should not easily be forgotten what an excess of curiosity did to the cat.
James William Smith has worked in senior management positions for some of the largest financial services firms in the United States for the last twenty five years. He has also provided business consulting support for insurance organizations and start up businesses. Mr. Smith has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Boston College. He enjoys writing articles on political, national, and world events. Visit his website at http://www.eworldvu.com