A diagrammatic view of the LHC. Image © CERN.
CERN's Large Hadron Collider is one of the few scientific experiments to spark wide-spread media coverage. Its initial start up in 2008 spurred headlines that it would create black holes, and it even starred in the Tom Hanks movie Angels and Demons. The real excitement came, however, in July 2012 when Rolf Heuer, the director of CERN, announced the discovery of the long sought Higgs boson. So what really goes on at CERN and why the hubbub about the Large Hadron Collider, known as the LHC?
CERN is the European Centre for Particle Physics and the LHC is the world's largest laboratory experiment. It's a particle accelerator sitting about 100m below the Earth's surface, in a huge tunnel on the Franco-Swiss border. The experiment has smashed together tiny particles of matter in over a million billion collisions in the hope of finding answers to some deep questions about the way our Universe works.
For a brief introduction to the LHC, what it is looking for, how it does that and what it's found so far, see:
- Particle hunting at the LHC: the particles
- Particle hunting at the LHC: the standard model
- Particle hunting at the LHC: the Higgs boson
- Particle hunting at the LHC: dark matter
Our conversation will theoretical physicist Ben Allanach about CERN's December 2015 announcement of the potential discovery of a new particle.
If you want to know more about the work so far, you can read more in-depth articles exploring the physics of elementary particles and all our coverage of the hunt for the Higgs. You can also watch this video, or read the accompanying article, to find out more about The LHC and the dark matter mystery. And to find out about sigma levels, very important when it comes to the discovery of new particles, see here.