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The Sciences

LHC Factoids

Cosmic VarianceBy JoAnne HewettSeptember 27, 2006 9:59 AM


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The Large Hadron Collider project, under construction at CERN in Geneva Switzerland, is the largest project in High Energy Physics to date, if not one of the largest scientific projects undertaken by humankind. The two main high energy detectors are ATLAS and CMS. Here are a few interesting facts about the numerology:

  • The well-known "circular" collider is actually not a circle. It consists of 8 straight sections and of 8 arcs.

  • The rate of proton-proton interactions at design luminosity is 10^9 events per second.

  • The weight of the CMS experiment is roughly 13000 tons (which is 30% more than the Tour Eiffel) .

  • The ATLAS experiment is reputed to be able to float in water.

  • The amount of cables used in ATLAS is roughly 3000 km.

  • The data volume recorded at the front-end in CMS is 1 TeraByte/second which corresponds to 10,000 sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Per second.

  • The data recorded during the 10-20 years of the LHC lifespan will be equivalent to all the words spoken by humankind since its appearance on earth.

  • The kinetic energy the beam is equivalent to 1 small aircraft carrier weighing 10^4 tons traveling at 20 miles/ hour.

  • The machine temperature is 1.9 Kelvin (which will be the largest cryogenic system in the world).

  • The total cost of machine + experiments is roughly 5000 MCHF (or 8 billion US dollars, using US accounting techniques).

  • The total number of physicists involved is roughly 5000, a large fraction of which are from the US.

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