The continuous development and leaps in technology have paved the way for various engineering marvels that some individuals even consider art. Inventors have created ways to develop augmented and virtual realities. Engineers have constructed giant structures that could dwarf mountains and valleys. One of these structures is CERN’s Large Hadron Collider located in Geneva, Switzerland. This engineering marvel was a key to various scientific breakthroughs like the discovery of the Higgs boson particle [1]. It also had medical applications such as the development of hadron therapy for cancer patients [2]. The Large Hadron Collider is a monumental marvel of engineering with significant practical applications that provides a clearer understanding of the universe.

The Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider or LHC is a powerful record-breaking machine. It is the most powerful particle accelerator to date and has a circumference of 27km [1], [3]. That is about twice the depth of Marianas Trench in the Pacific Ocean or three times as tall as Mount Everest. The 27km circumference consists of a ring of superconducting magnets [3]. The superconducting magnets guide the particles as they move through the pipes and eventually collide with each other. Aside from its extreme length, the LHC weighs more than 38,000 tonnes [4]. This is about one-tenth of the weight of the Empire State Building and three times as heavy as The Brooklyn Bridge.

Due to its monumental scope, the LHC consumes a large amount of energy per year. CERN [5] reports that the LHC and their various experiments consume 600 GWh per year. There were also periods where the LHC consumed 650 GWh and 750 GWh. To put this into perspective, 1 gigawatt(GW) can light up 110 million LEDs or 3.125 million photovoltaic panels [6]. CERN allocated 1.1 billion CHF or 1.2 billion USD from 2009 through 2012 [5]. The figures will continue to increase as the LHC receive regular maintenance and upgrades. While the cost of the LHC’s operation may seem too high, it is important to note that the project aims to answer fundamental questions about the universe.

The LHC project does not only consist of CERN staff but also receives support from other countries. There have been 111 nations that assist in the experiments and data analysis regarding the LHC [4]. These include communities of scientists and engineers that are passionate about the scientific application of the project. CERN member states and observer nations even shared the 3.74 billion pound or 5.2 billion USD cost of the LHC’s construction [4]. This shows the importance of the machine to the world’s scientific communities.

The main purpose of the LHC is to allow scientists to initiate and observe the collision of two particles. The LHC can contain two particle beams that travel in opposite directions close to the speed of light [5]. The collision of two beams allows scientists to observe physical phenomena regarding hadrons or particles. Particles are the most basic building blocks of the universe and understand them is essential for further scientific breakthroughs. Scientists believe that the LHC will help answer questions regarding supersymmetry, dark matter, antimatter, and the quark-gluon plasma [5]. While the LHC is still far from understanding some of these topics, it has already contributed to the world-changing research and discovery of the Higgs boson particle.

Contributions of the LHC to Science

The Higgs boson is the most significant contribution of the LHC to the field of physics. It was the missing piece of the Standard Model of Particle Physics. The Standard Model theory describes the fundamentals of particles and how they relate to the universe [5], [7]. The theory states that protons, neutrons, and electrons are made up of smaller particles. Scientists call these particles quarks and leptons [7]. The Higgs boson is a force-carrying particle [7] that influences the mass of quarks, leptons, and other bosons. Its discovery supported the Standard Model theory and provided a forward step towards a deeper understanding of the universe. However, there are still questions that the Standard Model theory cannot answer [1]. This is one of the reasons why scientists continue to experiment with the LHC.

The LHC did not only change the world of physics but also contributed to the field of medicine. CERN was able to develop GaToriod, a gantry where a patient can lie down and receive Hadron therapy [2]. The GaToriod utilizes the use of superconductors similar to the materials engineers used for the LHC. Hadron therapy is a form of radiotherapy for treating cancer patients [2]. The use of ion beams allows experts to precisely target tumors and avoid exposing other tissues to radiation [2]. While this contribution is not directly from the collision of two particles, the LHC played its part in the conception of this innovative medical treatment. 

The most recent news regarding the LHC is its interaction with neutrinos. Neutrinos are the lightest particles with mass and are found all around the universe. However, scientists have never recorded any neutrino interaction inside a particle collider. This was true until May 2021 when researchers observed neutrino interaction inside the LHC [8]. This discovery can help scientists better understand the behavior of neutrinos and their ability to produce energy. Researchers will resume their experiments in 2022 when the LHC reopens after a long period of shutting down.


The Large Hadron Collider is a project that international science communities continue to support. Due to its titanic size, it consumes very high amounts of energy to maintain and operate. Still, scientific nations approve of the LHC project as they understand its role in understanding the universe. The LHC has provided leaps in the fields of physics and medicine. Even during its inactivity, it allowed scientists to discover new behaviors of certain particles. The Large Hadron Collider is a monumental marvel of engineering with significant practical applications that provides a clearer understanding of the universe.

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Reference List

[1]    T. Adams. 10 Years of Large Hadron Collider. (Accessed July 27, 2021).

[2]    L. Tvede & G. Porcellana. Using CERN Magnet Technology in Innovative Cancer Treatment. CERN. (Accessed July 27, 2021).

[3]    CERN. The Large Hadron Collider. (Accessed July 27, 2021).

[4]    Large Hadron Collider. Science and Technology Facilities Council. (Accessed July 27, 2021).

[5]    CERN. Facts and Figures About the LHC. (Accessed Jully 27, 2021).

[6]    How Much Power is 1 Gigawatt? (Accessed July 27, 2021)

[7]    DOE Explains...the Standard Model of Particle Physics. (Accessed July 27, 2021).

[8]    E. Conover. In a First, Neutrinos Were Caught Interacting at the Large Hadron Collider. (Accessed July 28, 2021)