From Black Holes to Secret Portals: Everything You Need to Know About CERN and LHC

Discover the fascinating world of CERN and LHC, where powerful particle collisions reveal the fundamental laws of nature.

If you have a lot of questions regarding CERN and the LHC and are thirsty for answers, you have come to the right spot.

Using my knowledge in particle physics, I will attempt to address some of the most common questions, doubts, and tips about CERN; so, enjoy the post, and if you have any further questions, please leave them in the comments section at the bottom.

When was CERN built?

The European Organization for Nuclear Research was founded in 1954 by 12 European countries. The organization was officially established on 29 September 1954 in Geneva, Switzerland. The founding members of CERN were Belgium, Denmark, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Yugoslavia.

The idea for CERN was first proposed in 1951 by French physicist Louis de Broglie. He proposed the establishment of a European scientific organization to coordinate research into particle physics, nuclear physics, and atomic energy. His suggestion was quickly accepted and the plans for CERN were set in motion.

The first CERN laboratory was built in 1954 and was located in a former wartime military facility near Geneva. This first building served as the center of operations for the organization until the 1960s when new facilities were added. The first particle accelerator was built at CERN in 1958, and it was the first of its kind in the world. Since its inception, CERN has gone on to make many groundbreaking discoveries.

In 1989, CERN researchers Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailliau, and Jean-François Groff developed the World Wide Web, which revolutionized the way we access and share information today. In 1995, the organization made the first discovery of the top quark.

In 2012, they announced the discovery of the Higgs boson, one of the most important discoveries in particle physics.

Where are CERN and LHC located?

CERN and LHC are located exactly on the border between Switzerland and France. While the majority of offices and tertiary buildings are in Switzerland, the biggest part of the SPS and LHC accelerator is built in the French underground.

What does CERN stand for?

European Organization for Nuclear Research or, in French, Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire

How many people are working at CERN and the LHC?

CERN employs around 2500 people (including the DG) from the 22 Member States but in total, almost 11000 scientists of more than 100 different nationalities use CERN’s infrastructure.

These scientists come from many different countries and backgrounds and are involved in various aspects of research. In terms of education, most of the scientists at CERN hold a PhD in a relevant field, such as particle physics, nuclear physics, or astronomy. Additionally, many of the scientists at CERN have postdoctoral training or other advanced degrees in their respective fields. In total, over 6,000 personnel at CERN have a PhD or other advanced degree.

The remaining personnel at CERN consists of engineers, technicians, administrative staff, and other support staff. Most of these personnel have at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as engineering or computer science. Additionally, many of the engineers and technicians at CERN have specialised training in their respective fields.

How much did the LHC cost?

The LHC took about a decade to construct, for a total cost of about 4322 MCHF. Several different particle detectors and experiments are working at the LHC, including the CMS and ATLAS Detectors which discovered the Higgs boson. CERN contributes about 20% of the cost of those experiments, which brings the overall cost to about 5300 MCHF.

The total operating budget of the LHC runs to about 1000 MCHF per year, financed by the member states. It goes for operation, maintenance, technical stops, repairs and consolidation work in personnel and materials.

You would think, wow, this is a lot, but at the end of the day, it is around one Cappuccino per European citizen. Do you think it is worth it? I think so.

What is CERN’s power consumption?

The total CERN and LHC energy consumption is 1.25 TWh per year while the total electrical energy production in the world is around 20000 TWh, in the European Union 3400 TWh, in France around 500 TWh, and in Geneva canton 3 TWh.

1.25 TWh of electricity per year is enough to power 300,000 homes for a year in Switzerland or to power about one-third of the amount of energy used by the nearby city of Geneva in Switzerland. 200 MW represents the average power during the day of maximum consumption in 2018.

The annual electricity bill is around 48 M€ for electricity (+ 4 M€ for distribution). CERN receives its electricity via two very-high voltage (400 kV) power lines connected to the French national grid at the Bois-Tollot substation near the Prévessin site. An emergency backup supply (130 kV) provided by the Swiss grid can be used if the 400 kV supply fails, for example, to power up and reconnect CERN’s general services and security systems (buildings, offices, safety systems, etc.).

CERN power consumption

What does CERN do?

CERN is primarily focused on understanding the fundamental laws of nature by studying the behaviour of matter and energy at their most basic level. To do this, CERN uses powerful high-energy particle accelerators to create and study subatomic particle collisions. These particle collisions are studied to better understand the fundamental particles of matter and the forces they interact with.

The experimental results obtained at CERN and the LHC are then used to develop new theories and models of the universe. CERN’s most well-known accelerator is the Large Hadron Collider, which is the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world. The LHC is used to accelerate particles to nearly the speed of light and then collide them together.

These collisions are studied to learn more about the fundamental building blocks of matter, such as quarks and leptons, as well as how they interact with each other and with the forces of nature. By studying these collisions, scientists at CERN can test existing theories of particle physics and develop new ones.

CERN is also involved in other areas of research, such as astroparticle physics and cosmology. Astroparticle physics studies the behaviour of particles in the universe, while cosmology investigates the origins and evolution of the universe. CERN is also involved in the development of technologies related to particle physics, such as detectors, computing systems, and software. CERN has made numerous contributions to our understanding of the universe and its basic building blocks. Its discoveries have been used to develop new theories and models of particle physics, astroparticle physics, and cosmology, as well as new technologies related to particle physics.

CERN is also a major player in the global scientific community and is responsible for several high-profile collaborations with other research institutions. Overall, CERN is an invaluable resource for research on particle physics, astroparticle physics, and cosmology. Its work has provided invaluable insights into the nature of the universe and its fundamental particles and has enabled the development of new technologies and theories. CERN is an important player in the global scientific community and has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the universe.

How much data do CERN and the LHC generate?

CERN and LHC data production is massive in scale. Every day, the organization produces an estimated 15 petabytes of data. That’s 15 million gigabytes.

To put that number into perspective, if a person were to store just one petabyte of data on a standard hard drive, it would occupy approximately 10,000 of them.

The sheer amount of data generated from CERN’s experiments is staggering. For example, in 2012, the organization’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) produced an estimated one billion gigabytes of data in just a single year. This amount of data was so massive that CERN had to create its data cloud to store and process it.

This cloud-based solution allowed CERN and LHC to quickly access and analyze the data produced by their experiments, enabling the organization to make rapid advances in the field of particle physics. CERN’s data production goes well beyond the Large Hadron Collider. Its ATLAS experiment alone generates an estimated 15 terabytes of data per second. That’s the equivalent of 5,000 full-length HD movies each second. In addition to its experiments, CERN also collects data from its computers, which are used by its personnel to conduct research and analyze data. This data is also stored in CERN’s data cloud where about 260 000 processor cores and 15 000 servers run 24/7. Data are also shared around the world through the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid, a massive grid supported by 170 computing centers, and 900,000 computing cores, which runs about 2 million tasks daily and allows more than 12,000 physicists to access LHC data.

CERN’s data production has grown exponentially over the years. In 2003, the organisation was producing an estimated 10 petabytes of data per year. By 2012, that number had jumped to an estimated 100 petabytes of data per year.

All this data is stored in the CERN Data Centre.

CERN and LHC

Can CERN cause earthquakes, end the world, open the portal to other dimensions, or make gold?

Probably this is the question that everybody was waiting for. Sorry to disappoint you but the answer is super clear. NO. Nothing of that can happen.

CERN and LHC are super safe places where all processes are meticulously checked and controlled. Although the energy concentration (or density) in the particle collisions at the LHC is very high, in absolute terms the energy involved is very low compared to the energies we deal with every day or with the energies involved in the collisions of cosmic rays.

Can CERN and LHC create a Black Hole?

Some physicists suggest that microscopic black holes could be produced in the collisions at the LHC. However, these would only be created with the energies of the colliding particles (equivalent to the energies of mosquitoes), so no microscopic black holes produced inside the LHC could generate a strong enough gravitational force to pull in surrounding matter.

If the LHC can produce microscopic black holes, cosmic rays of much higher energies would already have produced many more.

Black holes lose matter through the emission of energy via a process discovered by Stephen Hawking. Any black hole that cannot attract matter, such as those that might be produced at the LHC, will shrink, evaporate and disappear. The smaller the black hole, the faster it vanishes. If microscopic black holes were to be found at the LHC, they would exist only for a fleeting moment.

Why CERN has a statue of Shiva?

India gifted CERN with a statue of Shiva in 2004, and it was installed to celebrate India’s contributions made to the research organization. India joined CERN as a member state in 1954 and has since been an important part of the organization. By 2004, Indian researchers had played a major role in the development of several CERN projects, including the Large Hadron Collider.

The statue of Shiva is a representation of the Hindu god, who is often associated with creation and destruction. Shiva is often depicted in Hindu art as a powerful and destructive force. He is often referred to as the “destroyer of evil”, and his image is meant to symbolize the power of science and technology to both create and destroy.

For the scientists at CERN, the statue serves as a reminder of the potential of science and technology to both create and destroy. The statue is a reminder that the power of science should be used responsibly and for the betterment of humanity. It is also a reminder of the importance of collaboration and the need for international cooperation to make scientific progress.

This is something that CERN has done throughout its history, and it is a reminder that scientific progress often requires taking risks and pushing the boundaries of our understanding.

How to visit CERN?

CERN offers free guided tours from Monday to Saturday. If you are lucky enough to come during a Machine Technical Stop you might get the chance to visit also the underground facilities like LHC or some of the big 4 experiments. Getting to CERN is very easy. You can catch tram 18 from the Geneva Train Station (Gare de Cornavin) or a direct bus from the Airport. Plus a Taxi is always an option, although a little bit more expensive.

References

  1. CERN timeline
  2. Working at CERN. Make your dream come true
  3. CERN salary and condition
  4. Facts and figures about LHC
  5. Electricity at CERN
  6. The impressive number of the CERN datacenter
  7. Book your visit at CERN
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Quantum Soul
Quantum Soul

Science evangelist, Art lover

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