When it comes to popular science, the Large Hadron Collider is a household name. I doubt you’d find many people that haven’t heard of it, and rightly so. The colossal underground structure lies beneath the France-Switzerland border near Geneva and is supposedly the largest, most complex experimental facility ever built.
Recently the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) have been going around the UK, presenting a ‘LHC Roadshow’ for public viewing. The interactive exhibit was displayed in the Senedd last week and we went to see what it was all about.
“The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s biggest and most powerful particle accelerator, built to understand some of the mysteries of how the universe works” claimed a colourful sign at the start of the exhibit. Researchers use it to hurl protons and electrons in a beam almost as fast as the speed of light and collide the beams together to study the effects. With this method they discovered the Higgs boson. Physicist believe that without this subatomic particle, mass would not exist.
The exhibit in the Senedd included a life-size model of a cross section of the Large Hadron Collider which members of the public could walk through. There were lights to represent the beams of particles being shot around, and models of all the safety equipment in the tunnel.
We were told that the hugely successful project that is the Large Hadron Collider aims to gain yet more success with the research being undertaken by scientists from across the world. Learning more about ‘dark matter’ is on the agenda, as it reportedly makes up about 26% of our universe but still remains a huge question mark in the field. Dark matter cannot be detected by telescopes, but physicists can hypothesise about it due to its gravitational effects on visible matter.
The LHC Roadshow will be travelling around the UK to celebrate this fantastic science project and showcase the British research in the facility that helped to discover the Higgs boson particle.