how does a particle accelerator work and what is its purpose?


how does a particle accelerator work and what is its purpose?

In: Physics

The LHC (large hadron collider) works by using various types of magnets to speed up, focus, and guide two separate particle beams in opposite directions around a circular track of tubes faster and faster until they reach a high enough speed, then one beam switches tracks putting the two particle beams on a collision course for each other.

This process is used to study what happens when different types of atoms hit each other, depending on the conditions and the type of elements used the atoms either fuse together to form a new element, or they smash each other apart and release subatomic particles.

The reason? Just to see what happens, sometimes the results confirm theories that have only been worked out on paper, sometimes the results debunk a theory and lead to a new field of study.

I built a house out of LEGO blocks. Now you come and want to know which blocks make up my house: what size are they, and how are they connected to each other.

But you just can’t take the blocks apart, no matter how hard you pull. They’re just stuck like that.

So eventually you become frustrated and just throw the bunch at a wall, and the entire house breaks apart into tiny blocks. Now you can see exactly which blocks exist and make up the house.

This is what particle accelerators do in essence. We take pieces of matter and throw them very hard against each other (usually using electric or magnetic fields) in hopes of breaking them apart into the blocks they are made of.