Everyone's favorite particle smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has almost reached 1.9 Kelvin (-465F), colder than deep space. Never before has a physics experiment so enormous and complex been operated at such extremely low temperatures.
It contains 7,000 magnets that will be maintained at colder than space temperatures using liquid helium, in order to make them superconducting. The magnets are arranged in a ring that runs through the underground tunnel.
Cooling the Collider is a process that takes a couple of weeks, and that's only if everything goes as planned. If a sector has to be brought back up to room temperature for inspection and repairs and then recooled, the project is setback for months. Of the LHC's eight sectors, six are at temperatures between 4.5 and 1.9 kelvin.
To put perspective on just how frigid these temperatures are, desolate regions of outer space are about 2.7 Kelvin. Two sectors are not cold enough to undergo electrical testing, and so their cooling equipment will be moved to an area that offers better protecttion against super fast colliding particles.
Spanning the border between Switzerland and France at about 100 m underground, the machine will mimick the conditions right after the Big Bang, when an extremely hot and dense universe underwent some cosmic explosion that created space and time as we know it today.
When up and running the LHC will excite clusters of protons to record-breaking high energies, and then smash them into each other 30 million times a second.
Among the particle debris left over from these collisions, scientists hope to find the Higgs boson ( you know, the "god particle"), and the particle that makes up the identity of dark matter.