Tuesday, April 13, 2010

LHC experiments described

I thought initially that there were 8 main experiments at the Large Hardron Collider (LHC), there are in fact 6.

Note that While they are looking at the same types of collisions, they are constructed in different ways to look at different aspects.

You can see that a large number of scientists are involved from all around the world.

It is important to have short names to refer to the experiments rather than a long but more meaningful phrase. However, you can see some groups were struggling to come up with good short names!

The following are brief excerpts about each of the experiments, click on the links for more details.

ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment)
For the ALICE experiment, the LHC will collide lead ions to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang under laboratory conditions. The data obtained will allow physicists to study a state of matter known as quark‑gluon plasma, which is believed to have existed soon after the Big Bang.
A collaboration of more than 1000 scientists from 94 institutes in 28 countries works on the ALICE experiment (March 2006).

ATLAS is one of two general-purpose detectors at the LHC. It will investigate a wide range of physics, including the search for the Higgs boson, extra dimensions, and particles that could make up dark matter. ATLAS will record sets of measurements on the particles created in collisions - their paths, energies, and their identities.
More than 2900 scientists from 172 institutes in 37 countries work on the ATLAS experiment (December 2009).

CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid)
The CMS experiment uses a general-purpose detector to investigate a wide range of physics, including the search for the Higgs boson, extra dimensions, and particles that could make up dark matter. Although it has the same scientific goals as the ATLAS experiment, it uses different technical solutions and design of its detector magnet system to achieve these.
More than 2000 scientists collaborate in CMS, coming from 155 institutes in 37 countries (October 2006).

LHCb (Large Hadron Collider beauty)
The LHCb experiment will help us to understand why we live in a Universe that appears to be composed almost entirely of matter, but no antimatter.

It specialises in investigating the slight differences between matter and antimatter by studying a type of particle called the 'beauty quark', or 'b quark'.
The LHCb collaboration has 650 scientists from 48 institutes in 13 countries (April 2006).

TOTEM (TOTal Elastic and diffractive cross section Measurement)
The TOTEM experiment studies forward particles to focus on physics that is not accessible to the general-purpose experiments. Among a range of studies, it will measure, in effect, the size of the proton and also monitor accurately the LHC's luminosity.
The TOTEM experiment involves 50 scientists from 10 institutes in 8 countries (2006).

LHCf (Large Hadron Collider forward)
The LHCf experiment uses forward particles created inside the LHC as a source to simulate cosmic rays in laboratory conditions.

Cosmic rays are naturally occurring charged particles from outer space that constantly bombard the Earth's atmosphere. They collide with nuclei in the upper atmosphere, leading to a cascade of particles that reaches ground level.
The LHCf experiment involves 22 scientists from 10 institutes in 4 countries (September 2006).

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