This Is What It's Like to Be Inside the World's Largest Particle Accelerator

Take a spin.

Samantha Cole

The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. Image: CERN

Now you can see scientists try to make space for a giant 360 degree camera-ball while they're hard at work helping uncover the origins of the universe: the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) unveiled two new panoramic videos today of the Large Hadron Collider — you know, the same giant underground machine that found evidence of the "God particle" (Higgs boson) back in 2012

Both videos were taken during the Large Hadron Collider's first long shutdown in 2013. During this time, called "consolidation," crews performed accelerator element maintenance that'd help it run at a higher energy once they turned it back on in 2015. And that it did — at almost twice the energy as before, its proton beams colliding at an energy of 13 TeV (teraelectronvolts).

The first 360 video puts you inside the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment as if you're shoulder-to-shoulder with the engineers. They represent a handful of the 4,300 particle physicists, engineers, technicians, students and support staff involved in the CMS experiment, making it one of the largest international scientific collaborations in history, according to the CERN website.

In the ATLAS experiment video, we're led around the detector to see it from all sides. It weighs 7000-tonnes and measures 46 m long, 25 m high and 25 m wide. Like the CMS experiment, ATLAS — an acronym for "A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS" — is looking for Higgs bosons and hints about how the universe formed, but uses a different magnet system to do so. Together, they're covering the dark-matter bases.