Since 2008, scientists have conducted experiments in a hyperenergized, 17-mile supercollider beneath the border of France and Switzerland. The Large Hadron Collider is one of the wonders of the modern world -- a highly sophisticated scientific instrument designed to recreate in miniature the conditions of the universe as they existed in the microseconds following the Big Bang. Among many notable LHC discoveries, one led to the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for revealing evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle. Physicist Don Lincoln shares an insider's account of the LHC's operational history. Lincoln offers insight into an accident that derailed the operation nine days after the collider's 2008 debut. A faulty solder joint started a chain reaction that caused a massive explosion, damaged 50 superconducting magnets, and vaporized large sections of the conductor. The crippled LHC lay dormant for over a year, while technical teams repaired the damage. Lincoln also devotes an entire chapter to the Higgs boson and Higgs field, using several extended analogies to help explain the importance of these concepts to particle physics. In the final chapter, he describes what the discovery of the Higgs boson tells us about our current understanding of basic physics and how the discovery now keeps scientists awake over a nagging inconsistency in their favorite theory.
Beginnings and building blocks -- Stuff we already know -- Accelerators and the LHC -- Incredible detectors -- Teething pains and triumphs -- The dramatic Higgs saga -- Looking for something new -- The future is bright!
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