• The LHC, true to its name, is three things. 
  • First, it is large — so large that it is the world’s largest science experiment. 
  • Second, it is a collider. It accelerates two beams of particles in opposite directions and smashes them head on. 
  • Third, these particles are hadrons. 
  • Currently, engineers are warming up the LHC for its third season of operations, following upgrades that will have made the collider and its detectors more sensitive and accurate than before.  
  • It will start collecting data again from mid­-May. 

What is LHC?

  • The Large Hadron Collider is a giant, complex machine built to study particles that are the smallest known building blocks of all things.
  • Structure: LHC is a 27-km-long track-loop buried 100m underground on the Swiss-French border.
  • Operation: In its operational state, it fires two beams of protons almost at the speed of light in opposite directions inside a ring of superconducting electromagnets.
    • Guided by magnetic field: The magnetic field created by the superconducting electromagnets keeps the protons in a tight beam and guides them along the way as they travel through beam pipes and finally collide.
    • High precision: The particles are so tiny that the task of making them collide is akin to firing two needles 10 km apart with such precision that they meet halfway.

  • Supercooled: Since the LHC’s powerful electromagnets carry almost as much current as a bolt of lightning, they must be kept chilled. It uses liquid helium to keep its critical components ultracold at minus  271.3 degrees Celsius, which is colder than interstellar space. 


  • ‘God Particle’ discovery: In scientists at CERN had announced the discovery of the Higgs boson or the ‘God Particle’ during the LHC’s first run.
    • This led to Peter Higgs and his collaborator François Englert being awarded the Nobel Prize for physics in 2013.
  • The Higgs boson is the fundamental particle associated with the Higgs field, a field that gives mass to other fundamental particles such as electrons and quarks.
  • ‘New Physics’ beyond Standard Model 

New quest: To further the understanding of so-called “dark matter”: Dar matter is a hard-to-detect, the hoped-for particle is believed to make up most of the universe, but is completely invisible as it does not absorb, reflect, or emit light.