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Sep 09

FACTBOX-Five facts about CERN's Large Hadron Collider


(Reuters) - Following are five facts about the 10 billion Swiss franc (5 billion pounds) Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which will smash together particles at close to the speed of light after its start-up on Wednesday at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN):

* Though built to study the smallest known building blocks of all things -- known as particles -- the LHC is the largest and most complex machine ever made. It has a circumference of 27 km (17 miles) and lies 100 metres (330 feet) under the ground, straddling French and Swiss territory.

* At full power, trillions of protons will race around the LHC accelerator ring 11,245 times a second, travelling at 99.99 percent the speed of light. It is capable of engineering 600 million collisions every second.

* When two beams of protons collide, they will generate temperatures more than 100,000 times hotter than the heart of the sun, concentrated within a miniscule space. Meanwhile, the cooling system that circulates superfluid helium around the LHC's accelerator ring keeps the machine at minus 271.3 degrees Celsius (minus 456.34 degrees Fahrenheit).

* To collect data of up to 600 million proton collisions per second, physicists and scientists have built devices to measure the passage time of a particle to a few billionths of a second. The trigger system also registers the location of particles to millionths of a metre.

* The data recorded by the LHC's big experiments will fill around 100,000 dual-layer DVDs each year. Tens of thousands of computers around the world have been harnessed in a computing network called "The Grid" that will hold the information.

 © Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved

Posted by Jay Roberts at 02:56 PM | Permalink

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