With the exciting news that the Large Hadron Collider has discovered firm evidence for pentaquarks (a previously unseen class of particles that demonstrate there is a new state of matter) it seems a good time for a quick reminder of how the LHC actually works.
The LHC is the world largest machine, and also the world’s largest particle accelerator. Scientists at CERN, where it is located, hope to use it to recreate the moments after the Big Bang. They hope that by recreating the collision that the resultant debris will reveal particles which will explain the fundamental physics of the universe.
The LHC itself is a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets. Inside the accelerator, two high-energy particle beams are fired, and travel nearly at the speed of light before they are forced to collide. These beams travel in opposite directions in two separate tubes, kept at ultrahigh vacuum, and are guided around the accelerator ring by a strong magnetic field.