The largest machine in the world was created to study the tiniest composition known: the structure of the atomic nucleus. Nuclear accelerators are nothing new. They were first invented in the 1930’s for investigating the many aspects of particle physics. The Hadron Collider is seventeen miles in circumference and is buried 574 feet under the ground, near Geneva, Switzerland.
Inside the Collider, two high-energy beams are shot at each other, traveling at close to the speed of light. They are guided by thousands of super-conducting magnets inside two ultra-high vacuum tubes. The magnets are kept at a frigid -271.3 degrees, which is colder than the temperature of outer space. There are 1,242 dipole magnets, each measuring 49 feet in length for bending the beams, and 392 quadruple magnets measuring between 16- 23 feet long for focusing the beam.
Science doesn’t want to stop there though. Plans are underway for a new underground accelerator that would be three times larger than the Large Hadron Collider.