Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the LHC

Experts explain what the Large Hadron Collider is, what it seeks to find, and why it matters.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


April 02, 2010 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-07:00)

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, is the world’s most powerful accelerator for scientific discovery. Buried 300 feet below Switzerland and France and running 17 miles in length, the LHC smashes beams together at never-before-seen energies in the hopes of unlocking some of the deepest mysteries of the physical universe—including the fundamental building blocks of all matter. After years of preparation and a few minor setbacks, the LHC has started to produce results.

Today, more than 17,000 particle accelerators including the LHC are in operation around the world. They have helped national laboratories conduct basic research, aided in diagnosing disease, and led to everyday manufacturing advances such as radial tires.

To better understand the LHC and how the basic physics it studies can benefit society, join experts at swissnex San Francisco for LHC 101. Malika Meddahi, a physicist at CERN, describes what the collider is and how it works. Ian Hinchliffe, the US physics coordinator for the ATLAS detector, explains what scientists hope to discover from the LHC, including the illusive Higgs Boson particle. Elizabeth Clements, a senior science communicator at Fermilab, explains how the LHC and other particle accelerators contribute to innovation and therefore to the world economy in unexpected ways by advancing electronics, data storage, magnets, even tunneling technology.

This event is produced by swissnex San Francisco and co-sponsored by the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco.


6:30pm doors open
7:00pm welcoming remarks by Julius F. Anderegg, Consul General of Switzerland in San Francisco, followed by presentations and Q&A
8:20pm reception and networking
9:30pm doors close


Elizabeth Clements

Elizabeth Clements is a senior science communicator in the Office of Communication at Fermilab, where she specializes in communicating the benefits of particle physics for society. She also manages communications for the US Compact Muon Solenoid collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which includes media relations, public outreach, and organizing events for foreign dignitaries.
She joined Fermilab’s Office of Communication in 2002 to manage the laboratory’s public Web site and contribute articles to laboratory publications. In 2005, she joined the proposed International Linear Collider as the communications director for the Americas, and she returned to Fermilab in 2007.
Clements collaborated with the US Department of Energy to develop the Web site for the Office of High Energy Physics and helped organize the Accelerators for America’s Future symposium. She also helped launch an initiative, as a member of the InterAction Collaboration, to conduct peer reviews of communication at laboratories and scientific institutions worldwide, including the TRIUMF Laboratory in Canada and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in New Jersey. She has an M.A. and a B.A. in English literature from Brown University.


Ian Hinchliffe

Ian Hinchliffe obtained his Ph.D. from Oxford University in 1977. Later, he joined the theoretical physics group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), where his research focused on the understanding of the interactions between fundamental particles that make up the world around us. In 1984, he co-authored the seminal paper on the physics of high-energy proton colliders. Between 1992 and 1999, he served as head of the theoretical physics group at LBNL. Although his background and training is in theoretical physics, his main activity is now as a member of the ATLAS collaboration at the CERN LHC. He served as the ATLAS physics coordinator and has been head of the ATLAS group at LBNL since 2007.


Malika Meddahi

Malika Meddahi is an accelerator physicist at CERN working in the Accelerator Beam Transfer Group, which is in charge of design, commissioning, and operation of the transfer lines linking CERN’s accelerator complex. They also oversee the injection, extraction, and beam dumping systems. She is also part of the CERN team studying a new generation of injectors for the future upgrade phases of the LHC and for possible neutrino facilities, such as neutrino factories.
Meddahi’s experience in operation and design of accelerators covers synchrotron light sources, including the Advanced Light Source at LBNL, as well as lepton colliders and proton colliders like CERN’s LHC. Her Ph.D. thesis, “Beam-Beam effects in the SPS proton-antiproton collider,” received the Daniel Guignier Prize.


Photo: Myleen Hollero

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