Accelerators and detectors

The Large Hadron Collider, located 330 feet below the border of Switzerland and France, is the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. Its high-energy particle collisions allow scientists to study the properties of particles such as the Higgs boson and search for new fundamental laws and phenomena.

The LHC accelerates hair-thin beams of particles to a whisker below the speed of light. Thousands of powerful superconducting magnets steer the beams around the LHC’s 16.5-mile-long ring. At four points the particles collide in the hearts of the main experiments, known by their acronyms: ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb. These experiments record the properties, trajectories and momenta of the particles produced in the high-energy collisions. From this data, scientists can reconstruct the particles produced during the high-energy collisions and look for new particles and interactions.

More than 10,000 scientists, engineers and students from 113 nations on six continents contribute to the LHC, which is headquartered at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. About 1,800 come from universities and laboratories in the United States. Federal funding for US contributions to the LHC is provided by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Science Foundation.

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