‘Where Protons Will Play’



One of the many clearly somewhat irrelevant facts about me is that while I am working as an astrophysicist now, I started out as an experimental high-energy physicist, back at what used to be LEP. More precisely, I got my undergrad degree in that stuff and then went on to get a Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics. The only thing that I remember fondly from the LEP days is when I got the chance to actually see the underground structures that housed the experiment and that now are used for the next generation particle accelerator, called LHC. There’s a brief and somewhat unspectacular article in the NY Times about LHC today, but the photos that accompany the article are quite nice - even though standing in the gigantic underground dome, 100 m (300 feet) below the surface, is an experience that no photograph can convey. To get a better feeling for the scales, have a look at this photo (which shows this detector under construction), and this shows the tunnel with the “beam pipe” - if you stand in the tunnel it’s really quite impressive; it’s so big that it curves only very gently.