Monday, November 30, 2009

Large Hadron Collider Breaks Fermilab's Proton Acceleration Record

Via Google News (AP) -

The world's largest atom smasher on Monday broke the record for proton acceleration previously held by a U.S. lab, sending beams of the particles at 1.18 trillion electron volts around the massive machine.

The Large Hadron Collider eclipsed the previous high of 0.98 1 TeV held by Fermilab, outside Chicago, since 2001, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN, said.

The latest success, which came early in the morning, is part of the preparation to reach even higher levels of energy for significant experiments next year on the make-up of matter and the universe.

It comes on top of a rapid series of operating advances for the $10 billion machine, which underwent extensive repairs and improvements after it collapsed during the opening phase last year.

CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer said early advances in the machine located in a 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel under the Swiss-French border have been "fantastic."

"However, we are continuing to take it step by step, and there is still a lot to do before we start physics in 2010," Heuer said in a statement. "I'm keeping my champagne on ice until then."

The organization hopes the next major step will be to collide the proton beams at about 1.2 TeV before Christmas for an initial look at the tiny particles and what forces might be created.


Physicists also hope the collider will help them see and understand other suspected phenomena, such as dark matter, antimatter and supersymmetry.

The level reached Monday isn't significantly higher than what Fermilab has been doing, and real advances are not expected until the LHC raises each beam to 3.5 TeV during the first half of next year.


Attempts to make new discoveries at the LHC are scheduled for the first quarter of 2010, at a collision energy of 7 TeV (3.5 TeV per beam).


It may take several years before the LHC can make the discovery of the elusive Higgs boson, the particle or field that theoretically gives mass to other particles. That is widely expected to deserve the Nobel Prize for physics.

The LHC operates at nearly absolute zero temperature, colder than outer space, which allows the superconducting magnets to guide the protons most efficiently.

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