Tuesday, March 27, 2007


ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) is the largest detector at the LHC, the World's largest microscope. The detector is designed to measure the broadest possible range of signals, rather than a specific signal, and is thus part of the philosophy to expect the unexpected. The funny looking endcaps are part of the muon detectors. You can see a very nice movie explaining the experiment at this website. When completed, ATLAS will be 46 metres long and 25 metres in diameter. You can follow the construction inside the cavern via this webcam (updated every 30 min). For more info, the Wikipedia entry is pretty useful. But the coolest thing is this 360 degree view of the cavern.

[click to enlarge]



  1. How much of that can be recycled? The LHC should be condemned by social advocates for eco-terrorism and carbon dioxide emissions. The entire tunnel must be cleaned out and upgraded to a pedestrian walk with bistros, live theatre, and political relevance to our children with major portions set aside to feed and house the poor.

    The future will arrive unless we do something about it, today!

  2. So, how much data does the thing collect per second? Before cuts and all that, and how much gets stored on disk.

    Also, things like how many integerated circuits, how many printed circuit boards, how many miles of wire, how many processors of what sort. Total bandwidth to memory.

    Stuff my engineering buddy would be impressed by.

  3. While making fun of a machine like the LHC has its place, I am by far at awe. Consider:

    - Its purposes are clear and compelling. It is not easy to spend $4B (or whereabout) on a single compelling machine.
    - It is the most technologically advanced, largest thing human has constructed.
    - It is not a military weapon.
    - The degree of international cooperation gives hope to what mankind can do.
    - While it drinks a good load of juice while operating, it does not pollute.
    - The massive computing facilities built to analyze the results are almost as impressive as the collider itself.

    But alas, the most important thing is the results. To that, physicists can be forgiven if they feel very somber and dead serious.

  4. Bee, expect the unexpected?
    oops who ordered the baggles?

    Uncle Al - a pedestrian walkway with bistros - amazing that a kid's baloon is filled with molecules travelling at over a 1000 km an hour.
    Many particles can be detected in a cappucino or a glass of 'pop' - but one still needs a powerful accelerator and detector to catch the 'gravitons' - lol!

  5. The unexpected - "Atlas Shrugged"


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