the new particle accelerator at CERN

Lawrance M. Krauss in Seed Magazine:

Dftsod1The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), just one year from completion at CERN, will be the most powerful particle accelerator ever constructed, the largest and most technologically sophisticated machine ever built, and one of the greatest scientific endeavors humanity has yet undertaken.

The late Austrian-American physicist Victor Weisskopf described the grand particle accelerators that began to take shape around the world in the 1950’s and 60’s as the “Gothic cathedrals of the 20th century.” The comparison was, and is, apt. The medieval cathedrals pushed the limits of available technology, involved the craftsmanship of literally thousands of skilled workers, and took generations (and sometimes centuries) to complete. Modern particle accelerators require decades from conception to completion and involve scientists from about 80 countries, speaking dozens of languages, whose separate handiwork must mesh together perfectly on the scale of thousandths of millimeters. The physical magnitude of these distinct public works projects is similarly comparable—just one of the LHC’s four detectors is large enough to house the Notre Dame Cathedral.

More here.