The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is set to go online later this year. Scientific American printed a great series of articles on the LHC in their February 2008 issue. Non-subscribers can access two of the main articles online:
Large Hadron Collider: The Discovery Machine and
The Coming Revolution in Particle Physics
Here's a taste of what to expect from the first article:
[T]he LHC’s basic parameters outdo those of previous colliders in almost every respect. It starts by producing proton beams of far higher energies than ever before. Its nearly 7,000 magnets, chilled by liquid helium to less than two kelvins to make them superconducting, will steer and focus two beams of protons traveling within a millionth of a percent of the speed of light. Each proton will have about 7 TeV of energy—7,000 times as much energy as a proton at rest has embodied in its mass, courtesy of Einstein’s E = mc2. That is about seven times the energy of the reigning record holder, the Tevatron collider at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. Equally important, the machine is designed to produce beams with 40 times the intensity, or luminosity, of the Tevatron’s beams. When it is fully loaded and at maximum energy, all the circulating particles will carry energy roughly equal to the kinetic energy of about 900 cars traveling at 100 kilometers per hour..."The picture on the right is of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS). It is one of the four experiments built into the LHC. The other experiments are ALICE, ATLAS and LHCb.