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Large Hadron Collider tech: photos

Ever wondered how it is possible to accelerate particles through a tube underground until they reach such speeds that their collision can simulate the big bang? We go behind the scenes to show you the tech behind the Large Hadron Collider.
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By Stephen Shankland on
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1 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

At the heart of the LHC are 1232 dipole magnets, of which this is a cross section. The dipole magnet creates a nearly linear magnetic field that steers the beam of ionised particles around the accelerator. Two beams travel separately in opposite directions through the left and right central channels.

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2 of 20 Maximilien Brice/CERN

The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment is one of two geared for a variety of tasks, including finding the elusive Higgs boson. Because the LHC is underground, equipment such as this massive end cap for the CMS experiment must be lowered with cranes. This cap was at one end of the cylindrical detector.

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3 of 20 Maximilien Brice/CERN

One end of the CMS detector during the LHC's assembly in 2007.

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4 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

The LHC's primary control centre is used to monitor and run the particle accelerator. This pod of screens is matched by four others for other tasks. Separate control centres are used for the experiments. The green screens toward the left signal that all is well with hundreds of subsystems.

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5 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

The LHC requires tremendous computing power to store data. A primary copy of the data is stored at CERN, but it's replicated elsewhere across the planet.

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6 of 20 Claudia Marcelloni/CERN

A view inside the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) detector. Physicists hope to use the detector to find and detail the Higgs boson, a particle believed to imbue more conventional matter with mass.

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7 of 20 Maximilien Brice/CERN

ATLAS is one of the LHC's two general-purpose experiments. Here, the yellow crane holds the particle beam pipe that's being inserted into the detector.

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8 of 20 Mona Schweizer/CERN

ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment), one of the LHC's four major experiments, is designed to probe the high-energy past just after the Big Bang when quarks weren't confined within protons and neutrons as they are today.

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9 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Albert de Roeck, one of the CMS managers, calls up the latest experimental data from the Compact Muon Solenoid.

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10 of 20 Michael Hoch/CERN

Here, a silicon tracking detector — a cousin to an ordinary digital camera sensor — is inserted into one of the LHC's two general-purpose experiments, the CMS.

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11 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

CERN is where Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web. This is the hand-written note on the side of the first web server alerting staff not to switch it off.

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12 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Mirko Pojer, a physicist and the engineer in charge of LHC operations, explains properties of the LHC's two counter-circulating proton beams.

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13 of 20 Maximilien Brice/CERN

In a September 2008 incident at the LHC, electrical current resistance heated this area until liquid helium burst into a gas, damaging the LHC and forcing a delay in operation and an amended design.

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14 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

This shot shows the exposed innards of a junction between two superconducting magnet sections at the LHC. The electrical bus connection toward the upper right failed in September 2008, overheating and causing a serious operational incident.

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15 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

It's customary to celebrate milestones at CERN. Here are some of the leftover bottles.

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16 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

The exterior of the Atlas control centre at CERN is spruced up with physics-appropriate artwork.

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17 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

The Globe of Science and Innovation has no scientific function, but the centre is a distinctive CERN landmark.

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18 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

This magnet assembly, above ground and not in use, shows how the LHC fits within its underground cavern.

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19 of 20 Stephen Shankland/CNET

The LHC, which fits into the underground tunnel used by an earlier accelerator at CERN, is 27 kilometres in circumference. For scale, the Geneva airport is at the far end of the circle in this shot and the Alps are in the distance.

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20 of 20 Claudia Marcelloni/CERN

A 2007 photo shows a worker making the final connections in the LHC ring. Some of the work will be redone after a planned shut-down before the accelerator is run at full power.

Via CNET

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