LHC breaks beam collision record

The Large Hadron Collider continues to ramp up, and is setting new records for particle collisions. In your face, Simon Jenkins.

From the BBC:

The world’s highest-energy particle accelerator has produced a record-breaking particle collision rate – about double the previous rate.

The collider is now generating around 10,000 particle collisions per second.

Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) at the LHC. Photo from the BBC.

LHC gets scientists excited

You may have seen the press excerpts that indicate the Large Hadron Collider has been running – finally – and has been working.

But what’s working so far, exactly?

This article in the Guardian is written by John Ellis, one of the senior physicists at CERN. He’s very excited. But he explains what they’ve seen so far, what surprises we’ve already glimpsed, and why he’s encouraged.

LHC delay: again

In circumstances that are sure to re-ignite the highly speculative “sabotage from the future” theories, the Large Hadron Collider hit another snag today when it suffered a power failure:

I’ve been involved in hundreds of technical projects over the years, and almost every one of them has had snags that have delayed things. It’s not surprising that the most complex set of experiments in history is having trouble. There are (obviously) so many things that can go wrong.

LHC: Beams are back

From ScienceDaily:

Particle beams are once again zooming around the world’s most powerful particle accelerator — the Large Hadron Collider — located at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. On November 20 at 4:00 p.m. EST, a clockwise circulating beam was established in the LHC’s 17-mile ring.

From the BBC: pictures of the happy moment.

CERN’s Twitter feed shows that initial testing complete, and commissioning is now underway. Their tweets have links to info and animations.

Large Hadron Collider to get fired up again this weekend

Tests are going well, and it looks like CERN may fire up the Large Hardon Collider (LHC) again this weekend. They’ve shown that they can fire protons around the collider, and that the detectors are working. If things continue, they should soon be smashing particles.

You’ll remember that testing has been delayed because on 19 September 2008 a bad electrical connection caused a fault that damaged a bunch of the superconducting magnets. It’s taken over a year to repair that and put in safeguards in light of the fault. I’m sure CERN are anxious to move ahead (but to avoid further delays whilst doing so).

And if you’ve forgotten what they’re trying to prove with all this particle-smashing nonsense, let me remind you:

LHC to fire up again in November

From the Guardian:

Last week, Cern announced that the LHC will finally begin firing protons around its 27km circular tunnel again in November. Initially, it will run at an energy of 3.5 tera-electronvolts (TeV) per beam – just half of what it’s meant to achieve at full blast, but still several times more than the LHC’s American competitor, the Tevatron at Fermilab, can manage. After operating at this lower level for a period, the energy will be increased to 5TeV per beam.

According to Cern spokesman James Gillies, the mood at Cern is optimistic.

“We’re looking forward to getting going,” he said. “There’s consensus that the choices that have been taken to run the machine safely at 3.5TeV per beam are good choices. They allow the machine operators to learn how to drive the machine, if you like, under what should be very easy conditions for them, and they don’t compromise the physics.”

Gillies is confident that there won’t be another serious mishap this time around.

The Science of ‘Angels and Demons’

Despite being written first, Dan Brown’s book Angels and Demons only really took off after The DaVinci Code became a smash. Following suit, the A&D film comes after TDVC film, although the former’s story has been rewritten to come after the events of the latter.

In A&D, there’s a plot involving the CERN Large Hadron Collider and blowing things up with antimatter. This week’s Science Weekly podcast in the Guardian looks at the physics behind the film: could you really use antimatter this way?

The 38-minute audio show also looks at another topic I’ve blogged on: the  new Herschel and Planck satellites.

They also talk about the recent Catlin Arctic Survey, which makes me feel cold just by listening.