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24/4/2014 2:06
RIA Novosti

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Large Hadron Collider inaugurated

Topic: Engineers upgrade Large Hadron Collider

23:13 24/10/2008
MOSCOW. (Yury Zaitsev, for RIA Novosti) - On October 21, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest, highest-energy particle accelerator, was officially inaugurated in Bern, Switzerland.

The ceremony involved the hundreds of scientists who helped develop the collider, government representatives, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), observer countries, including Russia, and politicians.

The presentation took place despite an accident that shut down the LHC until next spring.

On September 10, 2008, proton beams were successfully circulated in the main, 27-kilometer, ring of the LHC for the first time, first travelling clockwise and then counter-clockwise.

A system of magnets for accelerating these particles to nearly the speed of light was not activated. Nor did opposing beams of protons collide. The first experimental proton-beam collision was scheduled for October 21. However, on October 19, operations were halted due to a fault between two superconducting bending magnets. Therefore the malfunctioning LHC was merely inaugurated on October 21.

Project participants explain the accident by human error during assembly. In their opinion, malfunctions are normal while the LHC is still in the experimental stage.

It will take about two months to repair and adjust the collider, which could allow a full capacity test by early December. Nonetheless, it was decided to "collide" the first proton beams in the spring of 2009.

After spending billions of dollars on the LHC program, they are now conserving power to heat the place.

Next spring is not the final deadline because numerous factors, including low winter temperatures, could influence the decision to restart the collider.

Russian scientists are reading reports on the LHC with mixed feelings. While they have sense of pride for their colleagues who have developed this engineering marvel, they are also embittered because Russia could have built a similar facility at least 10 years ago.

In the early 1980s, top Soviet Communist Party and Government officials decided to build an accelerator-accumulator complex (Russian acronym, UNK) in Protvino near Moscow.

The entire facility was to have been housed inside a 30-km tunnel 60 meters below the ground. The first-stage of the UNK tunnel was completed in 1993. Construction workers dug a large-diameter 50-km tunnel with 30 shafts and had started installing equipment for the required connections.

Moreover, 20 surface sites with high-rise production facilities, water conduits, heating mains and high-voltage power-transmission lines were completed.

However, the break-up of the Soviet Union and subsequent market reforms in Russia caused the Government to stop financing the UNK project. Virtually all the surface facilities have fallen into disrepair. The Government only allocates funding on security systems and underground maintenance operations because the disintegrating tunnels could cause an environmental disaster.

The LHC plans to verify the so-called Standard Model of particle physics, or the theory describing three of the four known fundamental interactions with the elementary particles that take part in these interactions. These particles make up all matter in the universe except for dark matter.

Some of the generally accepted hypothesis requires experimental verification. Scientists believe that the LHC can discover Higgs boson, a hypothetical massive scalar elementary particle predicted to exist by the Standard Model.Also known as the Particle of God, Higgs boson explains the presence of mass in elementary particles.

The LHC will be used for colliding opposing beams of protons. Scientists are already discussing construction of a new-generation International Linear Collider (ILC) which will be far more powerful than the LHC.

Unlike the circular LHC, the straight ILC will accelerate particles without expensive superconducting magnets needed to deflect particles flying at relativist speeds.

The ILC's acceleration tunnel will measure several dozen km long. The tremendous energy of colliding particles will reach 500 to 1,000 giga-electron-volts. Unlike the LHC where hadrons constituting a bound state of quarks collide, the ILC will collide electrons, the fundamental subatomic particles, and positrons, the anti-matter counterparts of electrons.

Although ILC prototypes already exist, electrons and positrons have never collided at such high energy before.

Russia would consider it a matter of prestige to build an ILC-type facility. However, this will be an international project requiring the base country to contribute at least 35% of the required funding.

Apart from searching for Higgs bosons, the LHC will also be used to find evidence of a hypothetical super-symmetrical world.

Our world consists of protons, neutrons and electrons that form nuclei, atoms, molecules, other particles, all material objects and the human body. The Serpukhov accelerator and the Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEPC), the LHC's forerunner, have both synthesized elements of anti-matter.

The LHC would be expected to provide initial evidence of super-symmetry. Furthermore, variable-energy ILC experiments could study the entire mass-spectrum range and super-symmetrical particles and to define the basic parameters of this model.

An absolute majority of scientists are convinced that Russia would profit greatly if it is allowed to build the ILC, citing a possible quantum leap in the field of technology and incentives for production-renovation programs.

Although LHC and ILC projects lie in the realm of fundamental research and do not stipulate any applied or commercial experiments, they must receive state-of-the-art materials, electronics and other components. This will facilitate the development of new technology that could be used in other spheres.

The Russian Government will have the final say in building the tremendously expensive ILC.

In conclusion, I would like to quote Professor Alexei Osipov from Moscow Theological Academy: "We are always taking chances when facing the unknown. The extent of risk depends on the scale of any specific experiment and its influence on the innermost aspects of our existence."

This is consonant with a doctor's Hippocratic Oath: "Never do harm to anyone."

Yury Zaitsev is an academic adviser with the Russian Academy of Engineering Sciences.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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