LHC Countdown: T minus one

cms-pretty.jpg

My God, it's full of stars.

Tonight at 8 pm on the History Channel, Johns Hopkins University theoretical physicist David Kaplan hosts a program that will explain the significance of the Large Hadron Collider, which is the largest particle physics experiment in history and after twenty-some years of design and construction is finally ready to be fired up tomorrow. The show is called "The Next Big Bang."

Later today I'll also be posting a video about the LHC (albeit with considerably lower production values and a less hyperbolic title). I was at CERN in July and got a chance to see parts of the 27-kilometer accelerator ring, 100 meters underground, a couple of days before they finished construction and closed it up. After the experiments get going in the tunnels, the radiation will be too intense to allow anyone in.

The picture above shows the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), one of four equidistant experimental particle detectors that are strung around the accelerator ring like Cathedral-sized beads. CMS is on the French side; its fraternal twin, ATLAS, is on the Swiss side. The LHC is so big that it spans the border of the two countries.

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