Updates tagged: “LS1”
We physicists refer to the vast underground cavern that houses the ATLAS experiment as ‘the pit’. That may be a strange term to use for a marvel of civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, but nonetheless there are parallels to what you might imagine a ‘pit’ to be. Working inside the ATLAS detector in the pit can be dark, sometimes hot and not suited to those with claustrophobia. It often involves climbing several sets of makeshift steps and gantries and crawling flat on your stomach through narrow gaps to get to the part of the detector where you need to be. You will be wearing a safety helmet with mounted lamp, steel toe-cap shoes, one or more dosimeters to monitor radiation exposure and even a harness, if working at heights. Not to mention tools, laptop and any equipment you need to do your job. You tend to recognize the experimental physicists, engineers and technicians who have just come up from the pit – they stand blinking in the sunlight with a tired and rather sweaty appearance.
In the first run of the Large Hadron Collider, almost a billion proton-proton collisions took place every second in the centre of the ATLAS detector. That amounts to enough data to fill 100,000 CDs each second. If you stacked the CDs on top of each other, in a year it would reach the moon four times. Only a small fraction of the observed proton–proton collisions have interesting characteristics that might lead to discoveries. How does ATLAS deal with this mountain of data?
Hold out your hand and in one minute hundreds of muons will have passed through your palm. Muons are one of the high-energy cosmic ray particles that can pass through most solid structures – even the ATLAS detector’s calorimeter, which is designed to absorb particles and measure their energy. A specific system is required to measure muons. Until now, the ATLAS muon system was almost completed, but not quite. The last of the 62 chambers in the Extended Endcap (EE) region was installed just before summer this year.
More than 70,000 people visited CERN Open Days over the weekend, with 20,000 going underground to see the LHC tunnel and the detectors. Of these, an estimated 5,000 people visited the ATLAS exhibits aboveground, and another 2,500 had the opportunity to see the ATLAS detector.