Photo credit: The Atlantic
As of 2012, the LHC remains one of the largest and most complex experimental facilities ever built. Its synchrotron is designed to initially collide two opposing particle beams of either protons at up to 7 teraelectronvolts per nucleon, or lead nuclei at an energy of 574 TeV per nucleus, with energies to be doubled to around 14 TeV collision energy – more than seven times any predecessor collider – by around 2015. Continue reading for more.
The LHC went live on 10 September 2008, with proton beams successfully circulated in the main ring of the LHC for the first time, but 9 days later a faulty electrical connection led to the rupture of a liquid helium enclosure, causing both a magnet quench and several tons of helium gas escaping with explosive force.
The incident resulted in damage to over 50 superconducting magnets and their mountings, and contamination of the vacuum pipe, and delayed further operations by 14 months. On November 20, 2009 proton beams were successfully circulated again, with the first recorded proton-proton collisions occurring 3 days later at the injection energy of 450 GeV per beam. On March 30, 2010, the first collisions took place between two 3.5 TeV beams, setting a world record for the highest-energy man-made particle collisions, and the LHC began its planned research program.