There’s a lot of tech in the world for us to be excited about. Cell phones, refrigerators, cars, virtual reality...it has all changed the way we live our lives. One development that has an even bigger effect on us and deserves more attention is the particle accelerator. Imagine slamming things together just to find out what happens and to see if anything new pops into existence out of the mess, and you pretty much have a particle accelerator. But how does one even begin to build something that can create particle collisions? Here’s how a particle accelerator is built:
1. You need a lot of space.
The Large Hadron Collider, possibly the most famous particle accelerator, spans 27 kilometers. It was built underground not just because a tunnel was already there, but also because it’s far more space efficient. The tunnels need to be able to accelerate particles, so they need to be rather large and expansive.
2. You also need lots and lots of magnets.
In order to make the particles behave, you need magnets. To be precise, you need super magnets, and a lot of them. These create a magnetic field that’s strong enough to lead and guide the particles around the ring. As an example, the number of magnets utilized by the LHC tops the thousands.
3. Don’t forget the detectors, possibly the most important parts.
So you have a place to put the particles, and a way to accelerate them, but what about taking measurements and actually conducting experiments? That’s where the detectors come in. You can have several different detectors at different places along the accelerator, all searching for different things. These detectors utilize different instruments to take measurements, such as calorimeters and trackers to detect the momentum of particles.
4. Lastly, you need powerful computers.
Accelerating particles and smashing them against things creates a lot of data. All this data needs to go somewhere and then be processed. Modern storage methods rely on computing power and highly efficient servers. The way the LHC handled this problem was by creating a worldwide computer network for data storage.