If you were always perplexed by the big questions such as what is the meaning of life, and where did we all come from, then the large hadron collider, might be of some interest to you. The LHC, is an environmental project which started in 2008. It is by far the largest and most impactful particle accelerator, the world has ever seen. It is a 27 km underground tunnel, made up of superconducting magnets, with accelerating structures to pump up energy levels, of particles.
Within the accelerator, two beams of high energy particles will travel at the speed of light, before being forced to collide. Then the beams will travel in opposing directions in different beam pipes. They will be guided by a magnetic field which is maintained by several superconducting electromagnets. These electromagnets are chilled to -271.3 degrees Celsius (colder than outer space), so that electricity can be conducted more efficiently. The magnets direct the beam all around the accelerator. Just before impact, another magnet is introduced to squeeze all the particles closer, which will increase the likelihood of collisions.
In case you are wondering where the controls are for this mega project, it is located at CERN Control Centre (Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire). The beams are programmed to collide at four different locations in and around the accelerator, which corresponds to the location of the four particle detectors (ATLAS, ALICE, LHCb, and CMS).
The energy that is produced within this tunnel is equivalent to a Eurostar train, going at full speed. One of the safety features of the LHC is if something malfunctions, then the beam will be squirted into a blind tunnel, so that the energy will safely dissipate.
So, now getting back to the big question- the purpose of designing the large hadron collider was to try and recreate many of the conditions which existed before the actual Big Bang occurred. Obviously, this is being done on a small scale.
The LHC project has a total cost of 2.6 billion Pounds, in which the collider costs about 2.1 billion Pounds and the detectors cost 575 million Pounds. The total cost is divided between CERNs 20 State Members, with contributions from six banks.
This project is, in its truest sense, an international one. It involves 111 nations, in every aspect of designing, building, analyzing data, and testing software/equipment.