CERN – Particle Accelerators

CERN - Particle Accelerators

If you’ve researched more on the terms such as “antimatter” and “particle acceleration” as mentioned briefly during our Physics tuition classes on Nuclear Physics, you have most likely come across the term CERN. If you have never heard of CERN, it is simply the European Organization for Nuclear Research – CERN being an acronym of the original French name. They run the largest particle physics facility in the world, which is equipped with currently unparalleled technology. Their Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been the subject of many discussions in contemporary magazines, blogs, and academic journals. CERN teams have received many awards for their LHC, particularly for it being the most powerful particle accelerator, and the largest machine known to man. The LHC functions to accelerate beams of hydrogen particles at intense energies, which then collide with each other or with other particles/objects, with the results of the collisions recorded by detectors. It is chiefly used to test various theories in physics, and to improve the field of theoretical physics to advance the human understanding of the physical universe.

Besides the LHC, it is also widely accepted that the World Wide Web was “born” in a CERN laboratory.  Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, and created the first website while working at CERN. Therefore CERN, as an organization, has been successful in not only the physics field, but also played a role in the success of the computer industry and revolution.

CERN has been employing eminent scientists, from top universities all over the world, for decades.  Founded in 1954, it has garnered the interest of numerous European member states, and non-member states, thereby increasing funding to successfully continue operations for decades. However, the main interest at the time was the internal structure of the atom. At present CERN focuses on particle physics, proving more success than 51 years ago.

In 1995, the first antimatter particles were produced at CERN. During an experiment, called the PS210 experiment, the Low Energy Anti-proton Ring (LEAR) concept was used to create 100 anti-hydrogen particles in one of their facilities. However, these anti-hydrogen particles were “hot”, meaning scientists were unable to effectively study the anti-hydrogen particles. Nearly four years later, with the assistance of the ATHENA project, the first “cold” anti-hydrogen atom was created. CERN research teams were then able to study the anti-hydrogen atom, which has been one of the largest, and most successful experiments at CERN, and in modern theoretical physics.

Currently, in 2015, CERN has continued to set records and add to the greatest discoveries in history. Earlier this year, CERN discovered pentaquarks, and, in addition, deciding to end proton collisions in the LHC, thereby starting preparation for ion collisions. On the 25th of November, ion collisions in the Large Hadron Collider set a world record of 1 Pev – which is an energy level beyond one quadrillion electron volts.