Even the ancient Greeks believed that substance consists of tiny particles called atoms. The word “atom” means “indivisible” in Greek. However, with the development of science, it became clear that neither an atom, nor a proton and neutron are truly elementary particles. They consist of the smaller ones – quarks. Then neutrinos and antiprotons were discovered and now science knows about 400 different particles. To study their qualities and structures the mankind invented a very smart device – a collider. Let’s look at some of them and learn how they function.
“Do Not Enter”
Pictured: the VEP-1 – the world’s first collider built in the early 60s in the Novosibirsk Institute of Nuclear Physics.
Since the middle of the 20th century colliders have become the main way for searching and studying these particles.
The idea of their functioning is quite clear. Imagine that you have two cars and know nothing about their inner structure. You speed up these two cars toward each other and face them. At low speed an impact will be weak and the cars will be only slightly deformed. But at a higher speed the impact will be stronger and as a result various light exterior details (such as pieces of lamps, windows, mirrors and bumpers) will break off the cars. You will catch these details, examine them and get some information about the structure of the cars. With an increase of the power of the collision, more and more heavy details will fall off the cars, and you’ll get more and more knowledge about them. So in that way accelerators allow us to obtain new information about the particles.
Nowadays, a great number of colliders operate all over the world. some of them can speed up only small cars, while others can deal with heavy and huge trucks.
Pictured: the Large Hadron Collider.
The largest of modern colliders operates in Europe and is called the Large Hadron Collider. The length of its ring is 26.5 km and its radius is 4.2 km.