Five creative hacks with LHC

LHC tunnel

Moon detector, train observer, rain gauge and now a gravitational wave telescope, what can’t you do with an LHC particle accelerator? Five Creative Uses of the Higgs Explorer.

Using it, scientists discovered the Higgs boson, simulated the early hot universe, and even saw the first signs of phenomena not covered by the Standard Model of particle physics. In short, the LHC accelerator in Geneva is a research facility for particle physicists. And if it’s there anyway, consider what else you can do.

on Twitter Particle physicist Ivo van Vulpen has pointed to a very special new application: perhaps the LHC’s accelerator can even measure gravitational waves. This won’t be the first new hack of the Basic Physics Swiss Army Knife. KIJK lists five applications.

1) train watcher

A particle accelerator as sensitive as the LHC measures and processes massive amounts of data. Most of it goes in the trash. The LHC’s four large detectors must not only track hundreds of elementary particles after colliding protons racing at the speed of light in the 27-kilometre-long loop, a hundred meters below Geneva, but all potential interference signals must also be understood and filtered.

Even the LEP, the predecessor of the LHC, was sensitive enough due to careful error correction to feel the TGV driving away from the Geneva station. The direct current drawn from the overhead lines through the electric motors must also be returned to the source. This current normally travels through the ground, but is a weaker conductor than the cable network of the LEP and LHC – which can thus measure the acceleration time of the TGV.

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2) Tide watch and moon detector

Well, seeing the full moon from the surface of the Earth is not a huge feat. But if you can do it from 100 meters underground, you have something to offer. Physicist Pauline Gagnon discovered it when she was working in the control room of an ATLAS detector at the LHC in 2012. Every once in a while, she saw the intensity of the particle beam drop. And the crazy thing is that the team at Fellow Detector CMS saw exactly the same thing. This was a sign that the phenomenon came from the LHC and not from one of the detectors.

One call later, the central control room gave a chilly text and explained: “This is due to tides in the Earth’s crust from the Moon – you see those dips when I adjust the beam to correct them.” The moon pulls in not only sea water, but also the rock in which the LHC is built. As a result, it stretches a little: there is a difference of a few centimeters between the tides. During the day and night, the tidal force changes, forcing the control room to constantly adjust the beam alignment in the LHC.

At the full moon this effect is even more powerful, because the sun and the moon are on opposite sides of the earth. Once the impact is calibrated, you can tell if the moon is full by the LHC’s tidal force.

3) Gravitatiegolven

This was perhaps the biggest breakthrough in physics over the past decade: the detection of gravitational waves by the two measurement stations of the LIGO detector in the United States. LIGO uses lasers in 1-kilometre tunnels to measure how space-time stretches and expands in response to collisions of distant black holes and neutron stars. how much? LIGO can see gravitational waves as small as one ten-thousandth the diameter of a proton in atomic nuclei. As if you can see the distance to the nearest star changes the thickness of the hair, writes the project on its website.

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Can you also measure gravitational waves with the LHC? Not at first glance – the LHC is nowhere near as sensitive as LIGO or Virgo in Europe. A scientific workshop revealed that researchers see opportunities to detect gravitational waves using an accelerator. This is due to the power of repetition: the proton makes forty thousand rounds through the particle accelerator loop within an hour. This allows researchers to add small effects until they become measurable. The fact that orbital time changes due to, say, the passage of a gravitational wave, or the interaction of gravitational waves with lightning-fast patch signals that keep the particle beams in place.

The idea that you can use gravitational waves from The LHC can measure it. You read this correctly: Just like neutron stars racing around each other, the LHC’s accelerating protons cause minute vibrations in space-time. In theory, you can measure artificial gravitational waves with torsion equilibrium next to the accelerator. In theory then; There are no plans to test this idea yet.

Measurement of 2015 LIGO’s gravitational waves from two colliding black holes: at the top of the LIGO station in Hanford, Washington, below those of Livingston, Louisiana. © LEGO

4) rain meter

What else is the benefit of LHC? Give your MacGyver scientist Rolf Hut a say and he’ll turn your particle detector into a rain gauge. In 2016, Hutt wrote in his column for KIJK that the LHC is not only sensitive to changes in the soil due to tides or earthquakes, but also to the term of seasons. This way you can deduce how much water is in the ground in winter and how much snow is on top: all this weight falls on the ground and deforms it a little. It is sufficient in principle to be measurable and to determine the water balance around Geneva using the LHC.

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5) Searching for mountains

Finally, one cool effect of the LHC, although of little use for detecting different signals. Unless you really want to know if the Mont Blanc is still in place of course. That rock mass has its little gravity. You don’t notice it while climbing, but the molecules in the LHC sense whether they’re moving toward or away from Mont Blanc; It looks like something going uphill or up a hill. It saves protons as much as 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,0001 seconds of orbital time in the nine million seconds it normally takes.

If Mont Blanc suddenly disappears, or if the LHC makes it to Veloe as previously suggested, we won’t have to live with this deviation from ten to minus sixteen seconds in orbital time. On the other hand, we will not know now if the TGV left on time. Physics is an option.

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