It’s incredible how every day here at CERN during WikiToLearn Sprint is full of surprises and exciting activities!
This time I’m talking in particular about the visit to the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment in the LHC establishment. When entering the site we were welcomed by Prof. Pietro Govoni and then we were introduced to the quantum physics involved in LHC experiments, a nice talk hosted by Prof. Marco Paganoni.
We were then divided in three groups of about 10 people and I was in the one guided by Prof. Govoni, who started by showing some technical features of the experiment, such as the structure of the LHC at a hardware level and the actual way in which the scientists have managed to make the protons collide: that is, protons are sent in packets 70-ish cm long and 10m apart one from another, first sent in a linear accelerator and when they reach a minimum energy they pass on to the synchrotron and then similarly to the supersynchrotron. Eventually they reach the LHC and start colliding, about ten to the ninth times every second!
Of course there’s a series of devices that manage to reduce the amount of data taken, otherwise it would be overwelming: a first level hardware trigger and two levels of software eventually bring those numbers down to 100 phenomena acquired by the machines.
After a tour of the experiment’s control room, in which we saw some Plasma software featured, we ventured down to the pit… and the magic happened! I was curiously amused by some apparently odd safety procedures while going underground 100 m, but still I couldn’t care more: I was inside the cavern of LHC!
Is that place huge indeed! Inside of the cave we were shown the immense CMS detector and its many layers for the detection of different particles and different energies. Even if there are cables and wires everywhere going up and down the place, they aren’t distributed in a chaotic way: in fact, even the length of two different cables has to be almost identical, otherwise it could prove in a loss of performance and a worse data quality.
Of course during all the experience there were many occasions to show our happiness and excitement to be there, and you can see some result of that down here! Till the next time,