The recently repaired Large Hadron Collider in Geneva sets a world record for highest energy particle acceleration.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)'s
Large Hadron Collider, a $10 billion particle accelerator located in Geneva, has
set a world record by becoming the world's highest energy particle accelerator,
having accelerated its twin beams of protons to an energy of 1.18
teraelectronvolts (TeV). This speed exceeds the previous world record of 0.98
TeV, which had been held by the U.S. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory's
Tevatron collider since 2001.
The world record for energy was first broken Sunday evening, when beam 1 was
accelerated from 450 GeV, reaching 1,050 GeV (1.05 TeV). Three hours later,
both LHC beams were successfully accelerated to 1.18 TeV. First physics at the
LHC is scheduled for the first quarter of 2010, at a collision energy of 7 TeV,
or 3.5 TeV per beam.
"We are still coming to terms with just how smoothly the LHC commissioning
is going," said CERN Director General Rolf
Heuer. "It is 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. I'm keeping my
champagne on ice until then."
The organization said the next stage of operation on the schedule is a
concentrated commissioning phase aimed at increasing the beam intensity before
delivering sufficient quantities of collision data to the experiments before
Christmas. CERN explained that so far, all
the LHC commissioning work has been carried out with a low-intensity pilot
beam, and higher intensity is needed to provide meaningful proton-proton
The current commissioning phase is aiming to make sure that these higher
intensities can be safely handled and that stable conditions can be assured for
the experiments during collisions. CERN
predicted this phase will take around a week, after which the LHC will be
colliding beams for calibration purposes until the end of the year.
"I was here 20 years ago when we switched on CERN's
last major particle accelerator, LEP," said Accelerators and Technology
Director Steve Myers. "I thought that was a great machine to operate, but this
is something else. What took us days or weeks with LEP, we're doing in hours
with the LHC. So far, it all augurs well for a great research program."
Last week, CERN announced
that the LHC began
circulated two beams simultaneously for the first time, following the
reactivation of the device on Nov. 20. Circulating two beams simultaneously
allows the operators to test the synchronization of the beams and give the
experiments their first chance to look for proton-proton collisions.
CERN spent more than a year repairing the
device, built with the intention of testing various predictions of high-energy
physics, after, due to a fault between two superconducting bending magnets, the
project was brought to halt soon after the first tests began in September 2008.