Early this morning, science was made in a remote part of Europe. Some of you may have seen the video last Friday, and others may have heard about it on the news, but today was the day when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) did its thing…with a bang.
For facility managers, the LHC is a fascinating, um, well I’m not really sure WHAT to call it. It’s not just a building or a lab, it’s actually a complex populated with all sorts of different structures. Really it’s a huge underground ring of tunnels (nearly 17 miles long) filled with cables, pipes, tubes, machines, detectors, magnets, and just about everything that could satisfy the wildest dreams of any mad scientist.
Built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the LHC is situated near the Swiss/French border near Geneva and cost between €3.2 to €6.4 billion. The site opened its doors on April 6, 2008 and ran its first test today: September 10, 2008.
While I am still waiting for some additional facility oriented information about the LHC, I thought I’d share some weird and wonderful facts about the project (compiled by Hazel Morris April 2004):
That’s a lot of cable: The combined strands of the superconducting cable being produced for the LHC would go around the equator 6.8 times. If you added all the filaments of the strands together they would stretch to the sun and back 5 times with enough left over for a few trips to the moon.
That’s a big fridge: Part of the LHC will be the world’s largest fridge. It could hold 150,000 fridges full of sausages at a temperature colder than deep outer space.
It really sucks. The vacuum in the LHC is comparable to outer space, if it were a car tire with a leak, there are so few gas molecules that it would take 10,000 years to go flat.
How big is it? The ATLAS (one of several “detector” caverns) could hold the nave of Notre Dame cathedral.
So far, but yet so close. When the 27km long circular tunnel at CERN was excavated between Lake Geneva and the Jura mountain range, the two ends met up with just one centimeter of error.
She blinded me with SCIENCE! CERN is the world’s largest laboratory dedicated to the pursuit of fundamental science.
Faster than a speeding bullet. On October 1, 2003, CERN and the California Institute of Technology set a new Internet Land Speed Record by transferring 1.1 terabytes of data in less than 30 minutes across 7000km of network (that’s the equivalent of transferring a full length DVD movie in 7 seconds).
Dress up days. Since 1962, 38 heads of state have visited CERN.
In case of emergency… The CERN Fire and Rescue team covers 40km of underground tunnels, radiation, and chemical risks as well as the buildings above ground. CERN firemen train in abseiling and rope rescue techniques in preparation for a tunnel emergency. There are firemen of nine different nationalities, Bulgarian, British, Czech, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Spanish, and Italian tackling fires with the CERN fire brigade. When they are called out, they only speak in French over the radio.