Large Hadron Collider explained

Large Hadron Collider explained

Large Hadron Collider - what does it do?

I've wanted to know more about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) for ages. It's so big and mysterious! Why is it there? What does it do? The brilliant Large Hadron Rap helped me understand a bit more about it.

This video, featuring Professor Brian Cox, does a good job of explaining the LHC too. Sadly, there's no rapping!

So, the LHC is the largest and most complicated scientific experiment ever attempted. Pretty impressive!

Large Hadron Collider_photo by John McNab

Large Hadron Collider. Photo by John McNab.

But that's not all...

The LHC is:

  • 174 metres underground
  • A whopping 27 kilometres in circumference - so big it runs underneath the France-Swiss border, near Geneva
  • Filled with 2000 giant electromagnets that are at 1.9 Kelvin. That's colder than the space between the stars!

ATLAS experiment at Large Hadron Collider_photo by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

ATLAS experiment - part of the Large Hadron Collider. Photo by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Why do we want to know about the Big Bang?

Finding out the conditions that were present just after the Big Bang can explain the physics of our universe now - why our universe is expanding.

Particle physicists want to use the LHC to find the Higgs boson. Their current model of particle physics says that there should be a Higgs boson, somewhere! Particle physicists think the Higgs boson is the reason the universe is expanding.

Now particle physicists need to find the Higgs boson to prove their theory. If they don't find it, or they find a different particle, the theory will need to be changed.

Professor Brian Cox talking about the Large Hadron Collider_photo by Dave Pearson

Professor Brian Cox talking about the Large Hadron Collider. Photo by Dave Pearson.

It's an exciting time in physics. Our knowledge of the universe is changing and increasing. Who knows what we'll find out next! As Professor Brian Cox says, "Science is about exploring. The only way to uncover the secrets of the universe is to go and look".

Main image by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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