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Who Cares about Particle Physics?Making Sense of the Higgs Boson, the Large Hadron Collider and CERN$
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Pauline Gagnon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198783244

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198783244.001.0001

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Accelerators and Detectors: The Essential Tools

Accelerators and Detectors: The Essential Tools

(p.39) 3 Accelerators and Detectors: The Essential Tools
Who Cares about Particle Physics?

Pauline Gagnon

Oxford University Press

To produce Higgs bosons, one needs to concentrate a huge amount of energy into a tiny point in space. That is the role of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, which accelerates beams of protons circulating in opposite directions in a 27 km long circular vacuum pipe surrounded by superconducting magnets. They collide at nearly the speed of light, releasing energy that then materializes in the form of particles, since mass and energy are equivalent, as expressed by E = mc2, where c2 is a conversion factor. The particles produced are unstable and break apart moments later. Four gigantic detectors, ATLAS, CMS, LHCb and ALICE, located around the collision points, act as cameras, taking snapshots of these ephemeral particles as the fragments fly apart like microscopic fireworks. Physicists then determine which particles were produced and study their properties to better understand the fundamental particles and the laws that govern their behavior.

Keywords:   accelerator, Large Hadron Collider, LHC, detector, collision, ATLAS, CMS, LHCb, ALICE, superconducting magnet

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