Why is it called the ‘Large Hadron Collider‘? Is it colliding large hadrons, or is it a large collider? Well, since it is the largest and most expensive particle accelerator ever built and scientists are probably interested in hadrons big and small, I suspect it’s the collider.
What is a hadron? A hadron is a subatomic particle, held together by the strong nuclear force. It takes a lot of energy to counter that force and break hadrons apart. A hadron is made of quarks. A hadron called a baryon has three quarks, and a hadron called a meson has two quarks (more specifically, a quark and an antiquark). Theoretically, there are other types of hadrons, but they haven’t been found yet.
Using colliders, scientists speed up subatomic particles, smash them together in high-energy collisions, and analyze the debris. The debris may include quarks. ‘There are six types of quarks, known as flavors: up, down, strange, charm, bottom, and top. Up and down quarks have the lowest masses of all quarks. The heavier quarks rapidly change into up and down quarks through a process of particle decay: the transformation from a higher mass state to a lower mass state. Because of this, up and down quarks are generally stable and the most common in the universe, whereas strange, charm, top, and bottom quarks can only be produced in high energy collisions (such as those involving cosmic rays and in particle accelerators).’