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Ana OQuin
Mr. Whitted
Pre-AP Chemistry
October 4 2013
Prompt: Write a 500+ word essay on the current research done at the Large Hadron
Collider in CERN in a manner that a middle school student could understand.
The LHC Understanding the Universe
Between Lake Gerreba of Switzerland and the Jura Mountains of France spans
underground the Large Hadron Collider of CERN. Every second that you read this
sentence, one billion proton-proton collisions are being made that are emitting more
than fourteen trillion electric volts of energy. Countless discoveries about the
universe, dark matter, antimatter, and mass have been discovered ever since
September 10th, 2008, and more are being made every day. At 27 kilometers long
and by accelerating each particle up to the energy of 7 TeV, the LHC (Large Hadron
Collider) is by far the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world.
The Large Hadron Collider is by essence a 27 kilometer ring of
superconducting magnets ringed with radioactive frequency chambers and four
detectors that accelerates and collides of particles in order to discover truths about
our universe. Although this may sound complex, in reality four basic steps are used
to achieve this goal.
1. Beams Created
This process begins with a single bottle of hydrogen gas. From this bottle of
hydrogen gas comes atoms with nucleases of one electron and one proton. Electric
fields are used to strip these nuclei into particles of electrons. Scientist monitors
these electric fields and switches them between positive and negative frequencies.
This simply ensures that the particles do not flow in a continuous stream but travel
in close bunches. The beams of protons then travel through ultrahigh vacuum tubes
that are kept at a temperature of -271.3 degrees Celsius, which is colder than outer
space. By doing this scientists prevent particles from colliding with gas molecules
and to travel without creating any extra voltage.
2. Superconducting Magnets

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Before these beams even enter the LHC, they enter a series of
interconnected linear (straight) and circular accelerators to speed up and focus the
beams. Inside the LHC they are continually circled between these superconducting
magnets and radioactive frequency chambers to add to their incredibly high speed
and focus.
Literally thousands of magnets are used to steer and focus beams. Every
single one of these magnets is an electromagnet while they come in two main
types. The first types of magnets are lattice magnets, which bend and focus the
beams as they whizz around the LHC more than 11,245 times per second. 1,232
dipole magnets, each around 15 meters long and weighing 25 tons, use
superconducting coil made of niobium-titanium to mainly bend and turn these
beams. Astonishingly they can create a magnetic field of around 8.4 telsa, which is
100,000 times more powerful than earths magnetic field. Next the quadrupole
magnets do their job by tightening the beams. Four magnetic poles are arranged
around the pipe symmetrically, squeezing the beams into a pressured point.
Additional magnets such as sextuope, octupule, and decapole magnets fix
imperfections within the LHC. The accuracy of all these magnets working together
is equivalent to firing two needles ten kilometers apart and them meeting halfway!
Insertion magnets then work with the beams directly inside the detectors.
Three quadrupole magnets are used to make one system of magnets called an inner
triplet. Eight of these inner triplets in the LHC tighten the beam up to 12.5 times
narrower than before, greatly aiding in the measurement of the particles.
To finish up the job, dipole magnets are also used to minimize the spread of
particles after collisions, to help get rid of them using a dilutionmagnet, and to
clean up the remains of beams that could mess with LHCs sensitive components.
3. Radioactive Frequency Chambers
Superconducting magnets explain how beams of particles are bent and
focused around the LHC, but they are also traveling at speeds extremely close to
the speed of light. How are they reaching these speeds? Radioactive frequency
chambers that are strung throughout the LHC are the keys to accelerating
charged particles. Within the radioactive chambers they are strong magnetic fields.
The chambers are shaped in a way that these magnetic fields would resonate off of
its walls and created radio waves. Charged particles that pass through the
chambers feel the force and direction of these waves, and are pushed forward at

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fascinating speeds. Like the rest of the LHC, these chambers monitored by scientist
so that they can oscillate, or switch the direction of the waves in order to make
sure that the beams are travelling in bunches. Within fifteen minutes, the bunches
of particles within beams reach their highest energy and acceleration point, already
having traveled through these radioactive frequency chambers around one billion
times.
4. Detectors
The crucial key to learning about the universe through the LHC lies within the
detectors. Four difference detectors stationed are around the LHC; these detectors
are the sites of massive collisions within the beams of particles. Collisions within the
detectors leave traces of particles that can lead to answers to major scientific
discoveries. The speed, mass, charge, and even momentum of these collisions also
help scientist identity new or unfamiliar particles. For example, the curve, or
curvature, of beams tells of the momentum of those particles. High momentums
produce a large curvature while low momentums create tight spirals. This gives
scientist major clues about the identity of the particles in beams and collisions.
In order to classify and identity collided particles, scientists at the LHC use
four main types of detectors. Tracking detectors record tiny electrical signals that
are created from the collisions and turn them into tracks that reveal clues about the
collision. Calometer detectors are then used to stop or absorb beams of particles
and detect their energy. Usually this means a layer of high-dense material such as
lead called the passive layer and a layer of an active medium of glass or liquid
argon. Identification detectors then, not surprisingly, detect the particles. This is
done in two ways; first using Cherenkov radiation. In this process a beam of light
passes through the detector at a speed faster than the speed of light, creating
radiation at an angle depending on its velocity. Once the velocity is measured along
with momentum, scientists can find the mass of the particles, one of the best ways
to identify them. Secondly, the detector also passes the beams between to
electrical insulators with different resistances, which creates similar radiation.
Within the LHC itself are four main detectors: the ATLAS, CMS, ALICE, and the
LHCb. The ATLAS and the CMS both are generally searching for the same answers:
clues to existence of the Higgs boson, a new type of field that could possible add
mass to particles, dark matter, an unknown matter in the world that could explain
extra gravitational pull, and even extra dimensions. Scientists have long suspected

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another whole dimension in our universe that could explain why we dont feel the
full effect of gravity. While the CMS uses huge solenoid magnets to detect this, the
ATLAS uses layers upon layers of sub detectors. ALICE is a huge ion-detector that
detects quark-gluon plasma, a matter that possibly could have formed right after
the Big Bang. Last but not least, the LHCb detects the differences between matter
and antimatter, which could explain why the universe appears to consist only of
matter while antimatter also exists.
As beams of protons and lead ions are being whizzed around in this complex
27 kilometer ring that accelerators them to almost the speed of light, energizes
them in huge collisions, and detect their every property questions about the
universe that havent been solved for hundreds of years are slowly becoming known
to scientists. Questions such as how did the universe come to be? Questions about
the origins of mass, dark matter, and even antimatter. Undiscovered principles of
nature are even being brought to light! Questioning the existence of extra
dimensions and trying to solve the mystery of dark energy are two other main
functions of the LHC. The Large Hadron Collider could indeed be the key to
understanding our universes past (how it was created), present (dark matter, and
antimatter), and future (what they are and how they will react in the future)

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Works Cited
Larbalestier, David. Explain it in 60 seconds Superconductors. Symmetry.
September 2005. 3

October 2013

<http://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/september-2005/explain-it-in-60seconds>.
LHC the guide. CERN. Feb. 2009. Communication Group, CERN. 14 Oct.
20013 <http://cds.cern.ch/record/1165534/files/CERN-Brochure-2009-003Eng.pdf>.
Temperature and Absolute Zero. The Atomic Lab. October 3 2013.
<http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/bec/temperature.html>
The Large Hadron Collider. US/LHC. September 2012. October 3 2013
<http://www.uslhc.us/files/factsheets/large_hadron_collider.pdf>
The Large Hadron Collider. 2013. CERN-Accelerations Science. 3 October
2013 <http://home.web.cern.ch/about/accelerators/large-hadron-collider>.

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