The Proton Beam is Circulated for the First Time in the Large Hadron Collider
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator, intended to collide opposing particle beams of either protons at an energy of 7 TeV per particle, or lead nuclei at an energy of 574 TeV per nucleus.
It is expected that it will address the most fundamental questions of physics, hopefully allowing progress in understanding the deepest laws of nature. The LHC lies in a tunnel 27 kilometres (17 mi) in circumference, as much as 175 metres (570 ft) beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, Switzerland.
The largest and most powerful particle accelerators, such as the RHIC, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN (which came on-line in mid-November 2009) and the Tevatron, are used for experimental particle physics.
A particle beam is an accelerated stream of charged particles or neutrons (often moving at very near the speed of light) which may be directed by magnets and focused by electrostatic lenses, although they may also be self-focusing (see Pinch).
Subatomic particles such as electrons, positrons, and protons can be accelerated to high velocities and energies, usually expressed in terms of center-of-mass energy, by machines that impart energy to the particles in small stages or nudges, ultimately achieving very high energy particle beams, measured in terms of billions and even trillions of electron volts. Thus, in terms of their scale, particles can be made to perform as powerful missiles for bombarding other particles in a target substance or for colliding with each other as they assume intersecting orbits.
High energy beams are created in particle accelerators, in which a charged particle is drawn forward by an electrostatic (not magnetic) field with a charge opposite to the particle (like charges repel one another, opposites attract); as the particle passes the source of each field, the charge of the field is reversed so that the particle is now pushed on to another field source. Through a series of fields in sequence, the particle accelerates until it is moving at a high speed. A natural analogy to particle beams is lightning, where electrons flow from negatively charged clouds to positively charged clouds or the earth.