Higgs boson discovery: The top ten Large Hadron Collider world records

By Guinness World Records News
Published
Large-Hadron-Collider-main

Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have today announced the discovery of a new particle consistent with the Higgs boson.

The elusive particle (often referred to as the 'God particle') has been the subject of a 45-year hunt to explain how all matter throughout the Universe - from the smallest atom to the largest star - has mass.

Higgs boson-hunting experiments being undertaken at the LHC have seen a level of certainty in their data worthy of being considered a "discovery"; however, more work will be needed to be certain that what they've detected is a Higgs.

The announcement was made during a press conference at CERN, home of the LHC in Geneva, and was met with loud applause and cheering.

Among those in the audience for the press conference was retired British physicist Peter Higgs, 83, who in the 1960s first hypothesised the existence of the sub-atomic particle which bears his name.

To mark the scientific breakthrough, here are our top ten Large Hadron Collider-related world records.

1. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is thelargest machineever built. It was constructed by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) between 1998 and 2008 at an approximated cost of 4.6 billion Swiss francs (£2.9 billion; $4.4 billion). It consists of a 27-km-long (approx. 17-mile) circular tunnel under the ground on the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland.

2. It's also the largest particle accelerator, able to smash together two opposing beams of protons at extremely high energies in order to witness the results of their collisions.

3. Able to accelerate the two beams at nearly the speed of light, the LHC has been acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the mo st powerful particle accelerator, requiring 120 MW of power and 91 tonnes (200,620 lb) of liquid helium to operate.

4. Proton beams in the Large Hadron Collider are capable of being accelerated by magnets up to within around a millionth of a percent of the speed of light. This means each proton will have around 7 TeV of energy (7 tera electron volts), equivalent to the energy used by seven flying mosquitoes. Combined, this sets a record forhighest energy particles in a particle accelerator, with all the protons in the active beams having the energy equivalent of 900 cars travelling at 100 km/h (62 mph).

5. The 9,300 magnets inside the circumference of the Large Hadron Collider are designed to be refrigerated for operational use. A total of 10,080 tonnes of liquid nitrogen are needed to cool them down to just -193.2 C, before they are filled with nearly 60 tonnes of liquid helium, which cools them further to just -271.3 C, making the LHC the world'slargest fridge.

6. Keeping on the super-sized household appliance theme, kind of, the LHC is also the world'slongest vacuum, The beams of particles that travel around the accelerator ring at the Large Hadron Collider must operate in a vacuum in order to avoid collisions with gas molecules. In total, the LHC contains a vacuum some 54 km long (approx. 33 miles) and is rated as a UHV or Ultra High Vacuum, with 10 times less gas pressure than the almost-vacuum at the surface of the Moon.

7. The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) is one of the general purpose detectors in the LHC. Built around a huge solenoid magnet, the whole detector is 21 m long (68 ft), 15 m (49 ft) wide and 15 m (49 ft) high, and weighs 12,500 tonnes. As well as trying to to discover the Higgs boson, its other job is to observe other aspects of high energy physics including the possibility of extra dimensions. Containing more iron than the Eiffel Tower, its included in the Guinness World Records database as theheaviest particle accelerator detector.

8. Meanwhile, the Barrel Toroid is thelargest superconducting magnet. Consisting of eight magnet coils in an array 25 m long (82 ft) and 5 m wide (16 ft), it weighs 100 tonnes. Part of the Atlas Detector, it was first tested in 2006 at an operating temperature of -269 C and is designed to use a 4-Tesla magnetic field to bend the paths of particles produced in the collisions in the Large Hadron Collider.

9. One of the first breakthroughs made by the LHC came in November 2010, when CERN researchers announced they had successfully performed the f irst trapping of antihydrogen,having contained 38 atoms of the exotic substance for around a tenth of a second.

Antihydrogen, which consists of an antiproton and antielectron or positron, is the antimatter 'opposite' of a hydrogen atom.

10. In March 2011, particle physicists announced that they had (seemingly) observed neutrinos travelling from CERN, through the Earth, to the OPERA detector in Gran Sasso, Italy, and arriving earlier than anticipated. Their initial results showed that the particles had travelled from one end to the other 60.7 billionths of a second faster than the speed of light. Further experiments followed which seemed to confirm the findings. Had the results been accepted, it would mean that the speed of light in a vacuum - 299,792,458 m/s - was no longer thefastest speedpossible in the universe. However, it was later discovered there had been a faulty connection between a fibre optic cable and a GPS receiver during the experiment, meaning Albert Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity was right all along.