LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

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PeterCai
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LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby PeterCai » Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:58 am UTC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11711228

"...generating incredibly hot and dense sub-atomic fireballs with temperatures of over ten trillion degrees, a million times hotter than the centre of the Sun."

holy crap

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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby meatyochre » Wed Nov 10, 2010 11:33 am UTC

I'm interested to know a couple things from a materials standpoint. 1) How is it possible to have temperatures this hot without melting the collider itself? 2) What instruments do we have available to measure such temperatures without melting?

Cool shit.
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Zamfir » Wed Nov 10, 2010 12:16 pm UTC

meatyochre wrote:I'm interested to know a couple things from a materials standpoint. 1) How is it possible to have temperatures this hot without melting the collider itself? 2) What instruments do we have available to measure such temperatures without melting?

Cool shit.


The beams are made up from charged particles, held by magnetic fields. So they don't touch the collider.

For the rest, "temperature" is perhaps not really the best word. It's the energy (basically, the speed) of the individual particles that matters, and you could technically say that a gas (or really plasma) composed of particles with that energy would have a certain temperature. But trillions of degrees sounds better than gigaelectronvolts

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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby SlyReaper » Wed Nov 10, 2010 12:40 pm UTC

I wish you'd said "sounds cooler".
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Plasma Man » Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:37 pm UTC

Also, the amount of matter involved in the collision is really, really tiny.
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Azrael » Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:39 pm UTC

meatyochre wrote:1) How is it possible to have temperatures this hot without melting the collider itself? 2) What instruments do we have available to measure such temperatures without melting?

It's all about energy density. Smash two tiny particles traveling at enormous speeds together and the energy has to go somewhere, in this case it went to heat (and light, etc). But the mass of the objects is incredibly small, so the net effect is like trying to melt the Grand Canyon by standing in the middle with a match.

As for instruments, there are various ways to measure incredibly hot temperatures (like that of the sun) without a physical sensor that's actually measuring temperature; using things like the wavelength of the peak energy spectrum, or the inverse square law (decrease by the square of the distance to the sun) on the energy flux reaching earth. In this particular case it could also be a combination of the theoretical energy balance coupled with the other more easily measured outputs: Total energy input is known by the speed and mass of the particles, and sound/light/other radiation (etc) intensity could be measured; subtract to get the amount of energy gone to heat. Given a known mass, solving to get actual the temperature is easy.

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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby meatyochre » Wed Nov 10, 2010 7:08 pm UTC

Thanks for the edumacation! =)
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Dauric » Wed Nov 10, 2010 7:39 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:... so the net effect is like trying to melt the Grand Canyon by standing in the middle with a match.


Now after reading this I desperately want to see Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon with lit matches, declaring the myth busted, then wheeling in Buster with some sort of atomic mega-match to 'replicate the result'....
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Technical Ben » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:00 pm UTC

I think in the science forum the thread had a post that described the beam as like being hit by a mosquito travelling at the speed of a truck [50-70mph?]. That if you put your hand in the beam, it might get warm/hot. But it's the tiny pin prick and radiation you would suffer the most from. Not the heat, as it's such a small number of particles.
Bear in mind that cosmic rays from supernova hit the earth all the time. The Astronauts get atom sized holes in their helmets from them.
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Cynical Idealist » Thu Nov 11, 2010 2:34 am UTC

Technical Ben wrote:I think in the science forum the thread had a post that described the beam as like being hit by a mosquito travelling at the speed of a truck [50-70mph?]. That if you put your hand in the beam, it might get warm/hot. But it's the tiny pin prick and radiation you would suffer the most from. Not the heat, as it's such a small number of particles.
Bear in mind that cosmic rays from supernova hit the earth all the time. The Astronauts get atom sized holes in their helmets from them.


The particles in the beam carry kinetic energy roughly equal to a flying mosquito (not one travelling at the speed of a truck). However, there are a lot of particles in each beam. Take a look at how they dump the beam to get an idea of how much energy is involved (it involves 10-ton graphite blocks and waiting hours for them to cool).

If you were to stick your hand in the beam, what would happen kind of depends on how you went about doing that. If you waited for a beam that was kicked out of the accelerator, you'd get a lovely hole through your hand (1.5 mm across from the beam, plus damage around the hole from the water turning into steam). If you stuck it in the accelerator ring, you'd get a bunch of smaller holes, probably overlapping. Either way, it's going to hurt.
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby nopacman » Thu Nov 11, 2010 6:04 pm UTC

Cynical Idealist wrote:
Technical Ben wrote:I think in the science forum the thread had a post that described the beam as like being hit by a mosquito travelling at the speed of a truck [50-70mph?]. That if you put your hand in the beam, it might get warm/hot. But it's the tiny pin prick and radiation you would suffer the most from. Not the heat, as it's such a small number of particles.
Bear in mind that cosmic rays from supernova hit the earth all the time. The Astronauts get atom sized holes in their helmets from them.


The particles in the beam carry kinetic energy roughly equal to a flying mosquito (not one travelling at the speed of a truck). However, there are a lot of particles in each beam. Take a look at how they dump the beam to get an idea of how much energy is involved (it involves 10-ton graphite blocks and waiting hours for them to cool).

If you were to stick your hand in the beam, what would happen kind of depends on how you went about doing that. If you waited for a beam that was kicked out of the accelerator, you'd get a lovely hole through your hand (1.5 mm across from the beam, plus damage around the hole from the water turning into steam). If you stuck it in the accelerator ring, you'd get a bunch of smaller holes, probably overlapping. Either way, it's going to hurt.


In a related note, the chief of something-of-another in the LHC said that at a time the beam got out of its trajectory because of a faulty magnet and they a nice hole along some 10 meters of tubing. Also, they tested the beam concentration by firing it into a cupper block like 1m long. Holed thru. Sorry no link.
BUT: getting hurt from this beam is the closest thing to being hit with a lightsaber, so it'd be cool. Totally.

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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Cynical Idealist » Thu Nov 11, 2010 8:11 pm UTC

nopacman wrote:Also, they tested the beam concentration by firing it into a cupper block like 1m long. Holed thru.

Well, yeah. Probably had a lot of overpenetration, there.
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Triangle_Man » Thu Nov 11, 2010 9:53 pm UTC

Being a man of art rather than science, I only got a vauge idea of the explanation of the power of this machine.

However, I should abstract the fact that these particles are quite powerful, correct?
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Cynical Idealist » Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:23 pm UTC

Yeah.

If you want an intuitive idea, each beam is about enough to melt half a ton of copper (starting at the magnet temperature of 2 K), or roughly equivalent to 170 pounds of TNT.
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Technical Ben » Fri Nov 12, 2010 7:03 pm UTC

In defence, can I say I was probably reading about a smaller accelerator. This is the Large Hadron Collier after all. :oops:
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Dthen » Fri Nov 12, 2010 9:13 pm UTC

So... it's just a bang, then?
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Nov 13, 2010 6:36 am UTC

I also have some questions for particle physicists.

1) If other hadrons/mesons besides protons, neutrons and electrons exist, then do non-periodic elements also exist? Yes, I know, antimatter, but more than that?
2) I'm assuming that 1 is true, but what are their properties? Do they decay into periodic elements, or are they permanently in a "non-periodic" state?
3) Is there some super-strong force of attraction between quarks? I mean, if there was, then you could theorize that if a force was strong enough to tear atoms apart, such a really dense star, it would unleash the super strong forces of attraction and cause a black hole.
4) More of a note on 2. Do "non-periodic elements", if they exist, exert gravitational forces the way periodic elements do?

Obviously, these are not simple questions. I romanticize most scientists having tears of joy in their eyes when they say "we haven;t even the slightest idea, but we are going to find out!" Though it doesn't help that the medical equivalent of determining atomic structures would be smashing corpses together at sub-light speeds and taking pictures of the explosions of flesh to try and map the circulatory system.

Honestly, it would make sense if periodic elements were attracted to one another but repulsed/inert with non-periodic elements; the periodic elements would eventually combine into large clusters, while the non-periodic ones into their own clusters. Otherwise, we would have non-periodic elements in abundance in our region of space (not counting the anti-matter clouds around the planets caused by solar radiation).

This would explain of why the universe is 5/6 "dark" matter. The dark matter would merely be non-periodic regions of space that are invisible to us because our section of the universe is periodic, so we can't detect it through "normal" methods.

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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby tzar1990 » Sat Nov 13, 2010 8:57 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:I also have some questions for particle physicists.

1) If other hadrons/mesons besides protons, neutrons and electrons exist, then do non-periodic elements also exist? Yes, I know, antimatter, but more than that?
2) I'm assuming that 1 is true, but what are their properties? Do they decay into periodic elements, or are they permanently in a "non-periodic" state?
3) Is there some super-strong force of attraction between quarks? I mean, if there was, then you could theorize that if a force was strong enough to tear atoms apart, such a really dense star, it would unleash the super strong forces of attraction and cause a black hole.
4) More of a note on 2. Do "non-periodic elements", if they exist, exert gravitational forces the way periodic elements do?

Obviously, these are not simple questions. I romanticize most scientists having tears of joy in their eyes when they say "we haven;t even the slightest idea, but we are going to find out!" Though it doesn't help that the medical equivalent of determining atomic structures would be smashing corpses together at sub-light speeds and taking pictures of the explosions of flesh to try and map the circulatory system.

Honestly, it would make sense if periodic elements were attracted to one another but repulsed/inert with non-periodic elements; the periodic elements would eventually combine into large clusters, while the non-periodic ones into their own clusters. Otherwise, we would have non-periodic elements in abundance in our region of space (not counting the anti-matter clouds around the planets caused by solar radiation).

This would explain of why the universe is 5/6 "dark" matter. The dark matter would merely be non-periodic regions of space that are invisible to us because our section of the universe is periodic, so we can't detect it through "normal" methods.


While I may not be a particle physicist, I do try to keep up with the developments in the field, and I think I know some of these at least.

1. While there are hadrons, mesons and bosons outside of what the average person knows (i.e. protons, electrons and neutrons), they tend to be rather unstable, decaying in , at the longest, millionths of a second. As such, they would decay before they could form into atoms as we know them.

2. While antimatter molecules would theoretically be stable, any other exotic baryons would decay before a molecule could form and be measured, so we don't know what properties they would have if they could exist.

3. Quarks are bound together in "colourless" groups by the strong nuclear force. Some theories predict that, in a strong enough gravitational field, they could become unbound and form quark stars, which would have a mass greater than a neutron star, but not quite enough than a black hole. Such stars have not been confirmed to exist, although some people argue that we've seen them already and simply failed to recognize them for what they were.

4. Yes, particles made with unusual subatomic particles would be fully subject to gravity, since their components would all have positive mass. In fact, all particles in the universe have either positive or zero mass. A particle with negative or complex mass would have... interesting properties, but would either behave in a non-intuitive way (negative mass) or allow for FTL communications, which would break causality.

The idea of "non-periodic" elements (which is kind of a nonsensical term) repelling normal evidence is an interesting idea, but directly contradicts the evidence we have so far. Also, there's no reason to believe that such types of exotic matter would be invisible, since light would have no reason not to interact with them.

Also, the whole "smashing watches to see how they tick" thing and similar analogies about supercolliders are somewhat flawed. After all, watches and dead bodies don't spontaneously partially reassemble themselves after being shattered.
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Minerva » Sat Nov 27, 2010 2:14 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:3) Is there some super-strong force of attraction between quarks?


Yes, and physicists, in our remarkable linguistic perspicacity, call it the strong force.

It's really hard to break down hadrons into their constituent quarks, and study the constituent quarks, or study these quark-gluon plasmas that are made at RHIC and at CERN. Basically, part of the reason for that is that the strong force is so strong... so getting quark deconfinement is relatively hard and requires lots of energy.
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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby smartalco » Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:47 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Though it doesn't help that the medical equivalent of determining atomic structures would be smashing corpses together at sub-light speeds and taking pictures of the explosions of flesh to try and map the circulatory system.

This is possibly the best analogy I have ever heard, even if it isn't entirely accurate.

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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Black » Sun Nov 28, 2010 7:05 am UTC

Minerva wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:3) Is there some super-strong force of attraction between quarks?


Yes, and physicists, in our remarkable linguistic perspicacity, call it the strong force.

It's really hard to break down hadrons into their constituent quarks, and study the constituent quarks, or study these quark-gluon plasmas that are made at RHIC and at CERN. Basically, part of the reason for that is that the strong force is so strong... so getting quark deconfinement is relatively hard and requires lots of energy.


The current model suggests that it is impossible to find free quarks.

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Re: LHC generates a 'mini-Big Bang'

Postby Minerva » Sat Dec 04, 2010 10:19 am UTC

Black wrote:
Minerva wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:3) Is there some super-strong force of attraction between quarks?


Yes, and physicists, in our remarkable linguistic perspicacity, call it the strong force.

It's really hard to break down hadrons into their constituent quarks, and study the constituent quarks, or study these quark-gluon plasmas that are made at RHIC and at CERN. Basically, part of the reason for that is that the strong force is so strong... so getting quark deconfinement is relatively hard and requires lots of energy.


The current model suggests that it is impossible to find free quarks.


Quarks are almost always confined into hadrons, but quark confinement can be broken down at very high energies. The creation of a quark-gluon plasma, which contains free quarks, at LHC or RHIC is an example of that, as is the production of a top quark in a collision at the Tevatron or the LHC. Because of its enormous mass, the top quark is extremely short lived, with an expected lifetime of only about 10−25 s. This is about 20 times shorter than the timescale for strong interactions, and as a result top quarks do not have time to form hadrons before they decay, as other quarks do, when they're created in a collision at the Tevatron or LHC. This gives physicists the opportunity to study the behavior of a "bare" quark.
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