The Large Hadron Collider is the most ambitious engineering problem ever solved. Construction on the $10-billion behemoth—housed 300 feet underground in a 17-mile circular tube—spanned 14 years and required the efforts of 10,000 engineers and physicists. But its real engineering feat comes from the 1,200 magnets—each 35 tons in weight, 50 feet long, and powerful enough to crush a bus between them—that steer a stream of protons traveling at nearly the speed of light. These magnets are powered by 4,700 miles’ worth of superconducting niobium-titanium cable, and work only when cooled to 3.4˚F above absolute zero, colder than deep space.
Power consumption: 120 megawatts
Data flow: 15 petabytes/year
Proton collisions/second: 600 million
Proton speed: 11,245 laps/second
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