A couple weeks ago I linked here to a draft LHC schedule that had about 3 weeks slippage from the previous schedule, which has beam commissioning starting again on September 21 (week 39). This was due to delays in getting the new quench protection system in place, which meant that powering tests could not start until later than planned. The latest news is that a way has been found to get some of the powering tests done earlier, and then get the bulk of the tests done in 11 rather than 14 weeks by adding shifts and working on sectors in parallel. The latest schedule thus is able to stick to the September 21 start date.
The working assumption remains that it will take a month or so from that date to get colliding beams and the possibility of starting to get some data. The plan now is to run through the normal winter shutdown period for about a year until the late fall of 2010, hoping to collect 100-500 pb^-1 at 10 TeV center of mass energy. This week in Berkeley there’s a workshop on Physics Opportunities with Early LHC Data. At the projected luminosities there’s not much hope of competing with the Tevatron on the search for the Higgs, but the LHC would be able to push up current Tevatron limits on masses of some superpartners (gluinos).
At the KITP in Santa Barbara, there had been plans to have a program on The First Year of the LHC, starting in May of next year. The delay in LHC startup has caused that program to be pushed back, with a new startup date of June 6, 2011.
The latest CERN Bulletin has news and video of the recent transport of the final replacement magnet for the damaged sector 34. All the necessary refurbished magnets are now in the tunnel, and work on the interconnections is on-going.
In other CERN news, I hear that the Austrian government has decided, for budgetary reasons, to withdraw from membership in CERN by the end of 2011. This decision still needs to be ratified by the parliament, so perhaps there is some hope of getting it over-turned.
Update: Maybe not all is well. I hear that new problems have turned up with some of the busbar connections. It turns out that in some cases the way the superconductor was soldered in some interconnections melted the solder connecting superconductor and copper. This could be a problem during a quench. Investigation of the problem is ongoing, and it will take a couple weeks before data is in, analyzed and conclusions can be drawn.
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