This map of the CERN facility near the border of France and Switzerland identifies the following experiments being conducted there: CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid); LHCb (Large Hadron Collider beauty); ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus); SPS (Super Proton Synchrotron); PS (Proton Synchrotron); and ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment). CERN's two main sites—in Prevessin, France, and Merin, Switzerland—are also marked. The large yellow circle identifies the underground path of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the "biggest science experiment in the world."

Photograph by Maximilien Brice (CERN). This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 Unported license. Please see Credits below for a link to the license and original image.

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  • On September 10, 2008, the Large Hadron Collider powered up for the first time. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a series of superconducting magnets arranged in tunnels beneath the border of France and Switzerland near Geneva, Switzerland.
    The LHC is nicknamed the “biggest science experiment in the world.” The magnets of the LHC stretch in a ring about 27 kilometers (17 miles) long. Inside the LHC, high-energy particle beams travel at near the speed of light, guided by thousands of magnets. Scientists then carefully force the beams to collide. According to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which runs the LHC, “The particles are so tiny that the task of making them collide is akin to firing two needles 10 kilometers apart with such precision that they meet halfway.”
    The science experiments done with the LHC test different theories of particle physics, the study of the tiny particles that make up matter and radiation. Some of the particles studied by physicists and engineers at the LHC include subatomic particles, such as protons and electrons, and even smaller particles such as quarks and photons.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    akin Adjective


    border Noun

    natural or artificial line separating two pieces of land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: border
    collide Verb

    to crash into.

    electron Noun

    negatively charged subatomic particle.

    engineer Noun

    person who plans the building of things, such as structures (construction engineer) or substances (chemical engineer).

    magnet Noun

    material that has the ability to physically attract other substances.

    matter Noun

    material that makes up a substance.

    particle Noun

    small piece of material.

    particle physics Noun

    study of the subatomic particles that make up matter and radiation.

    photon Noun

    smallest unit of light, or electromagnetic radiation.

    physicist Noun

    person who studies the relationship between matter, energy, motion, and force.

    precision Noun


    proton Noun

    positively charged subatomic particle.

    quark Noun

    subatomic particle that combines with other quarks to form hadrons, such as protons and neutrons.

    radiation Noun

    energy, emitted as waves or particles, radiating outward from a source.

    subatomic particle Noun

    unit that is part of an atom, such as protons or electrons, or even smaller particles such as quarks and bosons.