The largest machine in the world measures 27 km (17 miles) in length and it’s likely that you have heard of it through one of many various news venues because the controversy around this machine is huge. The speculation is that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) may have the ability to destroy the world.
Outside of being the world’s largest machine, it is also the highest-energy particle accelerator in the world (intended to collide opposing particle beams) and was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) over a span of ten years between 1998 and 2008.
The purpose of the machine is to allow physicists to test predictions of various theories relating to particle physics and high energy physics. Essentially, they wanted to use the machine to prove (or disprove) the theory of the Higgs particle as well as other particles predicted by super symmetric theories.
The machine went live in September of 2008 but within the first 9 days of operation faulty connections caused an explosive rupture of liquid helium which resulted in the machine being shut down for repairs until November 20, 2009 when they restarted it. In 2013, it began its true mission by proving the existence of the Higgs particle, but many experiments are still in the works as physicists seek to address many of the unsolved questions of physics and advance our understanding of physical laws.
The LHC contains seven detectors for different types of research and was built by a collaborative effort of over 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 different countries and hundreds of universities and laboratories. In spite of all of this effort, the machine is already being upgraded to further the abilities of this machine.
Regardless of its size, those who drive by the LHC will never see the full construction because it lies in a tunnel that is as deep as 175 meters (574 ft) beneath Earth’s surface by the Franco-Swiss border in Geneva Switzerland. Despite that, the LHC remains one of the largest and most complex facilities ever built.