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Construction of CERN, Geneva

CERN is the world's largest facility for research in particle physics. Its 27 kilometer underground tunnel accelerates particles at speeds extremely close to the speed of light. This is accomplished through the use of thousands of superconducting electromagnets, chilled to an astounding -271.3 degrees Celsius (colder than outer space).

In order to protect the nearby environment and civilization from nuclear radiation, the tunnel and its testing facilities lie 100m below the surface of the earth. This also allows room for the massive LHC (Large Hadron Collider) detectors. The insertion of these massive detectors required massive excavations, a major geological process. The LHC is located 50-175 meters beneath the surface, circling beneath the Jura mountains of Switzerland.

A civil engineer at CERN stated, "The geology at CERN is far from ideal for large cavern excavations". This is due to the fact that the Earth contained strong sedimentary sandstone, hosted in an environment fed by glacial deposits and fast flowing water. In other words, geologists and engineers had to excavate a 35m x 82m x 42m section of earth amidst moist, water producing sand, gravel, and rock.

When physicists proposed the excavation of this site on such a large scale, the engineers were doubtful due to the geological conditions of this area. They had reason to be. It took 6 months to freeze the walls of the shafts to stop the water flow. Liquid nitrogen was even needed to essentially turn the water flow into permafrost. The excavation was completed in nearly 2 years, and the detectors were brought underground with only centimeters to spare.

The underground housing of the CERN tunnel and LHC detectors represents a massive geological feat faced by human construction. Successful completion of it, however, has proved to and will continue to prove its scientific value to humanity, as many of life's questions are currently being investigated and answered.

-- Sam J.

Image Credit: Ohio State University







@темы: Любопытное из сети, Физика