Dr. Lyn Evans and the Large Hadron Collider
Last updated: 09 November 2010
This week, in a special edition of Science Cafe, Adam Walton visits CERN near Geneva to meet Dr. Lyn Evans, the Welshman behind the Large Hadron Collider, the giant atom-smasher which is revealing the origins of the universe.
Broadcast: Tuesday 9th November, 7pm
The Large Hadron Collider is the largest, most complex machine ever built. It's housed in a 27km circular tunnel under the French-Swiss border and its aim is to smash atoms together at close to the speed of light to recreate what happened in the universe a thousandth of a billionth of a second after the Big Bang. Scientists hope that the LHC will answer some fundamental questions about the structure of atoms, the existence of antimatter and the 'missing' components of the universe: dark energy and dark matter.
In this week's programme, Adam Walton visits CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research near Geneva, to meet Dr. Lyn Evans, Project Leader for the LHC. Originally from Aberdare, Lyn has been based at CERN for the last forty years and the switch-on of the LHC on Big Bang Day, 10th September 2008 was the culmination of a lifetime's work. Adam asks Lyn about his life, his scientific influences and the path that led him to masterminding this extraordinary machine. Lyn also discusses media claims that the LHC could create a black hole which would swallow the planet and recalls the frustration of the LHC breaking down just ten days after it was switched on and being put out of action for a year.
And Lyn Evans isn't the only Welsh scientist working on the Large Hadron Collider. Adam also meets Carmarthen-born Dr. Rhodri Jones. His job is to fine-tune the two beams of protons being fired around the LHC in opposite directions so that they collide in exactly the right way. It's been compared to firing two knitting needles across the Atlantic and hoping they meet in the middle.
Adam also visits CMS, one of the four experiments spaced around the 27km ring of the Large Hadron Collider where protons are smashed together and the subatomic debris analysed. The experiments have been compared to giant digital cameras, recording millions of collisions every second and looking for something unusual. Adam talks to Dr.Alex Tapper, originally from Bridgend and now part of CMS , about the friendly rivalry between the teams working on the different LHC experiments.
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