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Cern, Switzerland.

Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

From the moment I heard that the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2013 has been awarded to Francois Englert and Peter W. Higgs for the theoretical discovery of a  mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC)I thought of sharing my experience of visiting CERN in Geneva, Switzerland with my readers.

A visit to CERN, Switzerland

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

Myself at CERN, Switzerland.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

Siddhartha at CERN, Switzerland.

Siddhartha at CERN, Switzerland.

The Big Bang Theory of the universe

We all must have heard about the Big Bang theory of the universe, proposed by Georges LeMaitre in 1927. According to this theory, the universe expanded explosively from an extremely dense and hot state, and continues to expand today .

Subsequent calculations have dated this big bang to approximately 13.7 billion years ago. In the first moments after the big bang, the universe was extremely hot and dense. As the universe cooled, conditions became just right to give rise to the building blocks of matter- the quarks and electrons of which we are all made. A few millionth of a second later, quarks aggregated to produce protons and neutrons. Within minutes, these protons and neutrons combined into nuclei. As the universe continued to expand and cool, things began to happen more slowly. It took 380,000 years for electrons to be trapped in orbits around nuclei, forming the first atoms.

Our tour guide inside CERN is a retired professor

All these facts were presented to us in an accessible way by a professor at CERN. The more I heard the more surprised I became. Confirmation of the Higgs Boson or the so called “God particle” (a popular nickname of the Higgs Boson) helped us to unravel the mystery of the universe a little more.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

Inside CERN, Switzerland.

What is Higgs Bosson?

The picture below shows the computer screen inside CERN, which explained the Higgs Boson. Higgs is the particle associated with the Higgs field, an energy field that transmits mass to the things that travel through it.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

Inside CERN, Switzerland.

Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN

To find this particle, scientists used the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the European organization for Nuclear Research.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

The LHC is made up of several such connected cylindrical structures.

The LHC at CERN lies in a circular tunnel 27km (17 miles) long. It is situated partly in Switzerland and partly in France. It took 10 years and thousands of scientists and engineers to build.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

In front of one of the parts of LHC.

The LHC is used to shoot beams of protons into each other. When they collide, they create super-high-energy mash-ups that spew out subatomic particles.

The LHC is world’s most expensive and complex experimental setup

The LHC is world’s most expensive and complex experimental setup. It recreates the conditions at the birth of the universe. The LHC is in effect a Big Bang Machine. 

LHC belongs to a world that can only be described with superlatives. It is not merely large: the LHC is the biggest machine ever built. It is not merely cold: the 1.9 Kelvin (1.9 degrees Celsius above absolute zero) temperature necessary for the LHC’s supercomputing magnets to operate is the coldest extended region that we know of in the universe- even colder than outer space. The magnetic field is not merely big: the superconducting dipole magnets generating a magnetic field more than 100,000 times stronger than the Earth’s are the strongest magnets in industrial production ever made.

The extremes don’t end there. The vacuum inside the proton-containing tubes, a 10 trillionth of an atmosphere, is the most complete vacuum over the largest region ever produced. The energy of the collisions is the highest ever generated on Earth, allowing us to study the interactions that occurred in the early universe back in time.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

A cross-section of the LHC tube.

The lady in the photograph beautifully explained to us the 20 different types of magnets, super conducting dipoles and quadrupoles inside the LHC.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

Inside CERN – The world’s largest particle physics laboratory

CERN is the world’s largest particle physics laboratory where world’s best physicists and engineers are trying to find out the answers to some of the most fundamental questions, like How the universe began and what is it made up of?

The sophisticated general purpose ATLAS detector at the LHC is used to investigate dimensions and particles that could make up dark matter.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

ATLAS building

From this building the physicists monitor and analyze all the data from the ATLAS detector.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

In front of ATLAS Building

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

ATLAS Control room.

Particle physics, which refers to the study of the fundamental objects of the universe is fascinating.

Travel Realizations

When I entered the museum, which is called the “Universe of Particles”, I realized that the urge to know the unknown has inspired the human race to achieve seemingly impossible things.

The quest for true knowledge challenges, intelligence, physical and mental strength, but at the same time inspires and leads to a fascinating world.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

Universe of Particles.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

A replica of LHC placed in front of  the museum Universe of Particles.

A replica of LHC placed in front of  the museum Universe of Particles.

I would like to end my article by briefly focussing on the person who introduced the principles of statistical mechanics guiding photons in 1924 and after whom physicist and mathematician Paul Dirac named the one of the most elementary subatomic particles Bosons. That person is, Satyendra Nath Bose, the Indian physicist who made significant advances in the studies of statistical mechanics and quantum statistics. The conception of Bosons came from a paper jointly written by Bose and Einstein.

Travel Realizations, Discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN, Switzerland

Bose and Einstein.

Although it is probably impossible for us to comprehend the complex science and engineering that goes on behind the LHC, I can surely salute the people who nonetheless push the limits of human knowledge and get inspired by their endeavor.

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10 Comments

  1. Glad to see a post from you! I had wondered where you'd been 🙂

    I would LOVE to visit here!!

  2. Sue

    Great article! Visiting CERN is high on my list and reading posts like this only increases my interest, thanks!

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Chirasree. Those of us working on ATLAS are very glad to know that you enjoyed your visit and that you are sharing your knowledge and interest. You and your friends (and everyone here) is welcome to come visit, anytime!

    Best Regards,
    Steven Goldfarb, ATLAS Education & Outreach Coordinator (+ATLASExperiment)

    • Thank you so much Steven. Glad to receive an inspiring comment from you.
      I was literally spell bound after seeing the enormous effort, dedication it requires to fulfill the quest.
      Salute to all engineers and scientists there.

  4. Wow, spectacular! You are so lucky to have been able to visit CERN.

    "…the urge to know the unknown has inspired the human race to achieve seemingly impossible things." Truer words could not have been spoken!

  5. In my thinking,at present,this LHC machine is the topmost wonder and innovation of the world.Your visit to it is equally great and grand. Keep up your journey for such great and grand visits.Wish your success in your
    every endeavour.

  6. Great photography. I enjoy the experience of being there with you.
    What does the Higgs Boson look like?

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