large hadron collider

Everyone who’s not a scientist always seems so shocked that I can’t find meaningful employment in spite of having an advanced degree in theoretical physics, so you know what? Fuck it.

From now on, I’m just going to tell everyone that I had my physics license suspended after I accidentally used the Large Hadron Collider to rip a hole in the fabric of the time-space continuum. 


Step Inside the World’s Largest Particle Accelerator in This 360-Degree Video

Recently, the BBC got to take a tour inside the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. Thankfully, it brought virtual reality cameras with it, providing an awesome tour.

To utilize the 360-degree features, simply drag your cursor around in the video to look up, down, and sideways. At the end, you get a sense of just how giant the LHC is, which makes discoveries like the one in 2012 possible. Back then, the collider detected the sub-atomic Higgs boson particle, a cornerstone of the Standard Model theory, which explains how particles interact.  


On tonight’s episode of #Ponderlust, we go full quantum. That’s right, we’ll be talking about one of the most gargantuan structures humans have ever assembled – the Large Hadron Collider. 

In excitement for this, indulge in this science-gasmic Symphony of Science production all about the quantum world which underpin all of nature: particle physics! 

Wait, what?

The known universe is made up of 12 particles of matter (fermions - quarks, leptons, antiquarks, & antileptons - or matter/antimatter particles; bosons - gauge bosons & Higgs boson - or “force particles” that influence interactions between fermions) and 4 forces of nature (strong, weak, gravity, electromagnetism). The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is essentially a research lab investigating where, why, when, and how those 12 particles and 4 forces came to be, and what that knowledge communicates to us about the life and death of the universe. 

Confusing? Fear not. Even the legendary physicist Richard Feynman stated 

I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” 

Join us tonight at 8:30PM EST as we embark down the rabbit hole of particle acceleration and into a discussion of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

We want to hear from you too, so submit your #Ponderlust tagged questions, comments, or podcast suggestions and we’ll respond to them on the show!


ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) Detector, CERN

ALICE, one of seven total detector experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, aims to provide a deeper understanding of strongly interacting matter at extreme energy densities. ALICE is also optimized to study heavy ion (lead-lead nuclei) collisions at a center of mass energy of ~2.8 TeV. The resulting energy density and temperature are expected to be high enough to produce a quark-gluon plasma – its existence and properties are key issues in quantum chromodynamics. Recreating this primordial form of matter and understanding how it evolves is expected to shed much-needed light on questions concerning how matter is organized, the mechanism which confines quarks and gluons and the nature of strong interactions and how they ultimately result in generating the bulk of the mass of ordinary matter.


After closing for upgrades in February 2013, the Large Hadron Collider is coming back online later this month. 

The LHC has laid dormant, undergoing upgrades and tweaks in preparation for coming back online in the spring of 2015 for a (hopefully uninterrupted) three-year run of gathering more data. There remain plenty of unknowns for the researchers to investigate, such as the theorized existence of dark energy and dark matter, so the Collider’s future looks to be at least as busy and productive as its past. In order to spread this message and to give the public a better understanding of what the LHC does, CERN is using the present period of downtime to tour journalists around the particle accelerator’s cavernous detector stations and underground pipe network. It’s a fascinating look at how big industrial machinery is helping to answer questions about infinitesimally small things.


Hints of a new particle could change physics as we know it

A fluctuation in the data from the world’s most powerful particle smasher could turn all of physics on its head. In December, two different detectors at the Large Hadron Collider spotted the same strange fluctuation, which physicists say could hint at the existence of a brand-new subatomic particle. There’s just one problem with the “discovery.“

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Large Hadron Collider ready to delve even deeper than ‘God particle’ as it switches back on at double power

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is set to be switched back on in March — hoping that a £97 million upgrade could push it to even greater discoveries, after it found the “God particle” in 2012.

The second three year run of the huge atom smasher will begin in March 2015. The Large Hadron Collider has been switched off since its last run finished in 2012.

The world’s largest particle collider has been undergoing a £97 million upgrade since then, as scientists comb through the data found during the last run.

It is being cooled back down ready for the switch on, and is almost at its operating temperature of 1.9 degrees above absolute zero, or about minus 271.25 degrees Celsius. Scientists are also testing out the equipment and earlier in December activated one of the magnets required to fire atoms around the collider.

Scientists are now gearing up to turn both on at once, in 2015. That will produce collisions of a scale never achieved by any accelerator in the past, equivalent with 154 tons of TNT.

The extra power will allow the CERN’s numerous experiments to look into deep mysteries of the universe, such as dark matter.

The Large Hadron Collider was used in 2012 to confirm the existence of the Higgs boson, known as the God particle, which explains the very beginning of the universe.


The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) is one of two large general-purpose particle physics detectors built on the Large Hadron Collider. The goal of the CMS experiment is to investigate a wide range of physics, including the search for the Higgs boson, extra dimensions, and particles that might make up dark matter. It’s 25 metres long, 15 metres in diameter, and weighs in at 12,500 tons. 

In July of 2012, along with ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus), CMS discovered a boson very similar to the Standard Model Higgs Particle, but further research was required to determine if the boson found was, in fact, the Higgs Particle. In March of 2013, CERN announced it was now certain it has discovered the Higgs boson. In order to make this final determination, the dataset was analyzed to see if the quantum properties of the boson discovered in July of 2012 matched properties of the Higgs boson currently predicted by physics. After tests in both CMS and ATLAS, it was confirmed that the particle possessed those properties.

This discovery is monumental because it seems to confirm the existence of the Higgs field, which is pivotal to the Standard Model and many other theories within the realm of particle physics. Physicists should now be allowed to finally validate the Standard Model’s approach to fundamental particles and forces, guide further theories and discoveries in particle physics, and potentially over time lead to developments in “new” physics.


The LHC is preparing to restart!

The Large Hadron Collider sets its sights on dark matter

After finding the Higgs boson, the LHC has had a refit to enable it to operate at even greater extremes – and to solve more questions about the beginnings of the universe

By Robin McKie

There is no shortage of superlatives that can be applied to the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, though many are strange and unusual. For a start, the huge underground device, which batters beams of protons into each other at colossal energies, can fairly claim to be the coolest place on Earth. Bending protons as they hurtle round the LHC’s circular 27km tunnel turns out to be a chilly business.

Thousands of huge magnets are needed to control the beams and these have to work with complete efficiency. To achieve this, the device is refrigerated to two degrees above absolute zero on the thermodynamic temperature scale: -271C, a temperature at which electric currents flow without resistance. In this way, the collider’s magnets can work to their maximum potential.

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Things to add to your bucket list:


  • See The Northern Lights 
  • See A Solar Eclipse 
  • See A Waterfall 
  • See Cherry Blossoms in Japan 
  • See The 7 Wonders of The World 
  • See The Mona Lisa, at the Louvre in Paris 
  • See Da Vinci’s Notebooks, Victoria and Albert Museum 
  • Spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square 
  • Spend a day at Central Park, New York 
  • Spend Mardi Gras in New Orleans 
  • Spend La Tomatina in Spain 
  • Spend Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico 
  • Use a Cable Car In San Francisco 
  • Visit Anne Frank’s House 
  • Visit Large Hadron Collider 
  • Walk Along the Great Wall of China 
  • Push A Stone at Stonehenge 
  • Wear an Authentic Kimono in Japan 
  • Make A Guard Laugh at Buckingham Palace 
  • Go to an Olympic Game 
  • Travel All Around the World 
  • Stand at The Equator 
  • Backpack Across at Least 10 Locations 
  • Pack Your Bags and Set Off for A Random Location 
  • Live in A Different Country for at Least 6 Months 
  • Set Foot in All the Continents 
  • See A TED Talk Live 
  • Comic Con or Who Con – Any Con 
  • Tee in The Park 
  • Coachella 
  • Go On a Safari 

Achieve Something

  • Achieve My Ideal Weight 
  • Publish A Book 
  • Get Featured in The Media for Something You Are Proud Of 
  • Start A Movement On a Cause You Believe In 
  • Get A Standing Ovation 
  • Get A Street Named After Me 
  • Give £10,000 To Charity 
  • Create A Famous Quote 
  • Start A Phenomenon 
  • Start A Petition 
  • Prove A Theory 
  • Become an Ordained Minister 


  • Be A Matchmaker 
  • Contact A Company  Just to Thank Them 
  • Fold 1,000 Origami Cranes and Give Them to Someone Special 
  • Pie Someone in The Face 
  • Personally Know Someone Famous 
  • Do Volunteer Work 
  • Be A Mentor to Someone 
  • Make A Difference in Someone’s Life 
  • Teach Someone Illiterate to Read 
  • Give A Heartfelt Surprise to Someone 
  • Perform A Kind Deed Without Expecting Anything in Return 
  • Meet A Good Street Performer 
  • Shake Hands with PM and President 
  • Meet Someone You Can Only Dream of Meeting 
  • Collect Autographs from All My Favourite People 
  • Donate Blood and Meet Who It Got Donated To 
  • Get A Pen Pal 
  • Write 365 Letters to Someone 
  • Write Letters to 5 People Who Positively Influenced You 
  • Leave £100 Tip for a waiter/waitress 
  • Befriend A Stranger 
  • Get A Drink for A Stranger 
  • High Five a Stranger 
  • Take A Picture with A Stranger 
  • Give Free Hugs on a side-walk 
  • Hold Sign Saying ‘Talk to Me About Anything’ On A Busy Street 
  • Order Pizza and Send It to A Random House with Note 

Something for Me

  • Get A Pet 
  • Get A Complete Makeover 
  • Decorate My Room – Paint A Cool Landscape 
  • Fly First Class 
  • Get My Portrait Painted 
  • Legitimately Play a Song On Any Musical Instrument 
  • Get A Signed Copy of a Book I Love 
  • Dye My Hair an Unnatural Colour – Purple/Blue 
  • Get The Restaurant Staff Sing for my birthday 
  • Get A Mani/Pedi 
  • Have A Spa Day 
  • Receive A Postcard from All Countries from Post Crossing 
  • Get A Star Named After Me 
  • Get Picked Up at The Airport by Someone with A Sign 
  • Authentic Chuck Taylors 

Learn Something New

  • Learn A New Language 
  • Learn Morse Code 
  • Learn to Say Hello in 26 Languages 
  • Learn Sign Language 

Try Something New

  • Try A Profession in A Different Field 
  • Try Every Single Ben and Jerry’s Flavour 
  • Try to Be Vegan for A Week 

Once in a Lifetime

  • Fly in A Hot-Air Balloon 
  • Do Public Speaking 
  • Act in A Film - Big or Small 
  • Be an Extra in a Big Film 
  • Crowd Surf 
  • Indoor Skydiving 
  • Wash an Elephant 
  • Ride A Rollercoaster 
  • Be On a Big Screen 

Participate in/Organize  Something

  • Run A Marathon 
  • Volunteer at A Hospice 
  • Go in A Corn Maze 
  • Join A Book Club 
  • High School Reunion 
  • Participate in Holi Festival 
  • Attend A Jewish Wedding 
  • Attend A Christian Wedding 
  • Attend A Hindi Wedding 
  • Attend A Sikh Wedding 
  • Attend A Muslim Wedding 
  • Attend An Atheist Wedding
  • Attend Any Wedding … 
  • Attend A Random Wedding as a Stranger 
  • Treasure Hunt 
  • Scavenger Hunt 
  • Masquerade Ball 
  • Murder Mystery Dinner 
  • Organise A Picnic Outing 
  • Organise A Barbeque 
  • Organize a Block Party 
  • Throw A Mega Party       
  • Put On a Fundraiser 
  • Foam Party 
  • Zombie Walk 
  • National Novel Writing Month 
  • MONOPOLY – actually complete it 

Something Sentimental

  • Walk/Dance Barefoot in The Rain 
  • Experience A Sunrise 
  • Experience A Sunset 
  • Go Stargazing 
  • Plant A Tree and Watch It Grow 
  • Go Camping 
  • Road Trip 
  • Fly A Kite 
  • Fall Asleep On Grassy Plains 
  • Ultimate Water Fight 
  • Message in A Bottle 
  • Sleep Under the Stars 
  • Make A Cool Snowman 
  • All Day with No Technology 
  • Water gun and Water Balloon Fight 
  • Bonfire and S’mores 
  • Blanket and Sofa Fort 
  • Catch Fireflies 
  • Collect Seashells 
  • Messy Twister 
  • Let A Floating Lantern Go 
  • Belong in A Secret Society 
  • Collect A Penny Made in Every Year I’ve Been Alive
  • Food Fight 
  • Leave A Note in A Library Book 
  • Leave A Note On A Car Window 
  • Leave A Shoe at A Ball 
  • Release A Chinese Lantern 
  • Use A Fake Name at Starbucks 
  • Pretend to Be a Window Mannequin 
  • Pull A Fire Alarm 
  • Pull an All Nighter 
  • Put A Pair of My Shoes On a Shoe Tree 

Places to go / Things To See

  • Ballet 
  • Beach 
  • Castle 
  • Concert 
  • Drive-in Movie 
  • Factory 
  • Haunted Place 
  • Laser Quest 
  • Museum 
  • Music Festival 
  • Paintballing 
  • Theatre 
  • Zip line 

Make Something

  • Knit A Scarf 
  • Build A Treehouse 
  • Write A Children’s Book 
  • Start A Vlog 
  • Make A Rubber Band Ball 
  • Start A Scrapbook 
  • Do A 365 Day Photo Project 
  • Wreck-This Journal 
  • Make A Bracelet 
  • Bake Something 

Today in a White House ceremony, the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. National Science Foundation and CERN – the renowned European laboratory on the Switzerland-France border – signed a cooperative agreement to enable continued scientific discoveries in particle physics. The agreement replaces the former US-CERN agreement, signed in 1997 and that was set to expire in 2017. While the facility is involved in many particle physics experiments and collaborations, it is best known for its Large Hadron Collider. NSF funds the operations and maintenance for the ATLAS and CMS detectors that observe collision byproducts on opposites sides of the LHC ring.