Tuesday, March 30, 2010

LHC Powers Up to Record-Shattering 7 TeV Collision

Via DailyTech.com -

The LHC first activated in September of 2008, but the ecstasy of the scientific community quickly turned to agony when an expensive malfunction lead to over a year of repairs. Last August those repairs wrapped up and in November the accelerator was brought back online. On November 30, 2009 it set the world record for particle collision energy, smashing together two proton beams with energies of 1.18 TeV, for a combined collision of 2.36 TeV.

Today researchers at the LHC have tripled that collision energy, powering the beams up to 3.5 TeV each for a combined power of 7 TeV. That much energy has not been seen in particles since the days of the Big Bang -- the dawn of our universe.

Even with the repairs, this was a daunting task, worthy of some of the world's brightest minds. States CERN’s Director for Accelerators and Technology, Steve Myers, "With two beams at 3.5 TeV, we’re on the verge of launching the LHC physics programme. But we’ve still got a lot of work to do before collisions. Just lining the beams up is a challenge in itself: it’s a bit like firing needles across the Atlantic and getting them to collide half way."

CERN Director General Rolf Heuer cautioned, "The LHC is not a turnkey machine. The machine is working well, but we’re still very much in a commissioning phase and we have to recognize that the first attempt to collide is precisely that. It may take hours or even days to get collisions."

However, the researchers' persistence paid off. The collisions started at 8:30 CEST and by 13:06 CEST they achieved the world's first 7 TeV collision

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