It’s the biggest scientific experiment ever to be conducted and you’ll be proud to know that Mumbai’s scientists are contributing to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which launches its first test run in Geneva on today.
Professor Sunil Mukhi, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, visited the Cessy village in France, where one of the four detectors of the experiment — the 12,500 tonne Compact Muon Solenoid — resides. “Cessy is just one of the many villages across France and Switzerland where the 27-km tunnel for the big experiment has been built. It is one big family of more than 7,000 scientists from 85-plus countries across the world.” He goes on to describe how talk about the collaboration had become the butt of many jokes. “At the CERN cafeteria, there were discussions of how a Nobel Peace prize could be awarded only because of the huge collection of scientists,” said Mukhi.
To the world, the only view inside the big experimental tunnel is that of CERN scientists dancing to a rap song. The LHC rap, whose lyrics explain details of the experiment, is one of the most popular videos on YouTube too. Mumbai’s participation comes from two institutes —TIFR and BARC.
Atul Gurtu, spokesperson and project co-ordinator of the India CMS said, “Scientists from India have been involved in the project since 1993. Towards the scientific side, two Indian teams are participating in different experiments. Each collaboration will see the participation of scientists from around 150 top class institutions.” The experiment will be conducted using the largest machine in the world, weighing more than 38,000 tonne, and running for 27km, in a circular tunnel, 100 metres beneath the Swiss-French border.
Physicists say the benefits will be many, but nothing can be said right now. For them, this is the glorious uncertainty of science where nothing can be predicted. But what they can tell is that science will not be the same after a few years.