How much do you know about the LHC?

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Don't know your elbow from your accelerator? Don't be put off. Our Large Hadron Collider quiz isn't for experts only. Learn a little about the particle accelerator and what it does with our LHC quiz.

The LHC has some serious curves. What's the circumference of the LHC?

The 16.8-mile collider needs curves to accelerate protons to gain energy and mass.

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My, what big vacuum tubes you have! Why exactly is the LHC so large?

Turns out the LHC is that big because the Large Electron-Positron Collider -- the accelerator that was in the space before the LHC -- was made to that size.

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What does CERN, the organization that runs the LHC, stand for?

Sure, CERN refers to the European Organization for Nuclear Research, but the acronym came from the original name: Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire.

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Where do the folks at the LHC get all of the protons that go zipping around?

All those protons come alive courtesy of a bottle of hydrogen gas that starts the process.

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What does NOT happen to particles before they go into the LHC?

Electrons are stripped from a gas (hydrogen, as we just discussed). That step and a few others eventually leaves only the meaty proton goodness for the process of acceleration.

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KA BLAM. What happens when the protons smash together?

While it sounds dire, physicists are recreating a Tiny Bang to see what was happening moments after the universe was created. But don't freak out: Any black holes created would be miniscule and immediately disappear.

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The huge magnets inside the LHC help to steer the proton beam. Are those magnets cold or hot?

They like it chilly, to the tune of negative 520 degrees F (negative 271 degrees C). That is indeed colder than outer space, reports CERN.

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What were scientists NOT looking for in the LHC?

While it might be cool to find one, scientists were not looking for black holes. And if they knew what was good for them, they were probably trying to actively avoid them.

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What can NOT be discovered at the LHC?

While superparticles in the LHC could confirm supersymmetry, and the Higgs confirmed theories about how particles gained mass, there is no silver bullet that would "prove" string theory correct in the collider.

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How many proton collisions occur each second in the LHC?

Hundreds of millions! Imagine keeping track of all that data.

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What does the Proton Synchrotron do?

Before the particles shoot around the LHC, they must be thoroughly accelerated. The Proton Synchrotron speeds 'em up to 99.9 percent the speed of light.

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What is the Higgs boson named after?

Both the Higgs field and Higgs boson were named for Peter Higgs, who first said something like, "Hey, what if particles actually kind of don't have mass even if we see they do?"

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What scientific theory did the Higgs "complete"?

The Standard Model, which sums up what we know about particle physics, needed the Higgs boson to really make sense.

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What are hadrons?

Quarks are the smallest parts of atoms we can observe. When they crowd together, we get a hadron, which helps form matter.

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How certain were scientists that they found the Higgs in 2012?

When we first heard the Higgs was discovered, scientists gave it a 5-sigma level of certainty. That means there was a 1-in-3.5-million chance that the Higgs didn't exist, but the scientists would still get the same results.

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How much did the LHC cost?

The $6 billion price tag was just the cost of construction, mind you. The estimated cost to find the Higgs boson in general? $13.25 billion. But who can put a price on universe-altering discoveries?

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How in the world do physicists see proton collisions?

OK, boring but true: Physicists pore over data from various detectors and trackers that help identify particles by their unique paths. They also rely on a few other clues.

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Why does the LHC need its "large" adjective?

More acceleration through long curves -- as you approach the speed of light -- translates to more mass. That gives us collisions with more energy that allows us to see debris with heavier mass.

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Besides proton collisions, what other work is done in the LHC?

Physicists also study lead ion collisions at the LHC, which gives them a look into the quark-gluon plasma that formed after the Big Bang.

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When is the LHC set to turn on again?

When the LHC resumes work in 2015, it will be able to perform collisions at even higher energies -- perhaps giving us a glimpse of new, denser particles.

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