What have CERN and the LHC ever done for us?
The science and engineering of the LHC seems extremely remote from the world most of us are familiar with, but the LHC and its predecessors do not just benefit physicists. UK society and industry benefit from many technology spin-offs and commercial contracts.
Technology transfer (spin offs)
Many technologies developed for use at CERN find their way intoeveryday use – the most famous is the World Wide Web, developed by Sir Tim Berners Lee while he was working at CERN.
Oxford Positron Systems Ltd (founded by a former CERN physicist) manufactures High Density Avalanche Chambers (HIDAC) that are used inscanning and imaging small animals.
Immense Ltd have developed software (link opens in a new window) that allows people to search for on-line pictures, based on recognising thecontents of the image.
GEANT4 is software that CERN developed to simulate, and optimise, the performance of particledetectors. It has subsequently found uses (link opens in a new window) in medicine and the spaceindustry.
The medipix chip was developed at CERN for use in particle detectors. It is highly sensitive and has found applications in other imaging anddetection systems, for example in medical imaging where greatersensitivity means lower doses/reduced exposure times of radiation can be used. The chip is now being used for a wide variety of different things (link opens in a new window).
During construction of the LHC CERN spent around £3.4B (approximately 40% of its budget) on industrial contracts, mainly within the 20 Member States. On average the UK wins about £12M of contracts a year. These cover a huge range of activities, from computing, electronics and vacuum technology to cleaning and civil engineering projects.
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