Latest from the LHC

The latest official news from CERN about the LHC schedule that I’ve seen is this from DG Rolf Heuer, who doesn’t give specific dates other than “second half of November” for circulating beams, collisions at injection energy soon thereafter, and, if all goes well, “high-energy collisions” before Christmas. He doesn’t specify what the value of “high-energy” is.

Physics Today has this story, which has a lot more detail than available officially, including a quote described as “a statement on the CERN web-site”:

This means that 2009 will not see physics collisions, but will perhaps see collisions at energies marginally higher than that of the Tevatron…

which was picked up by the New York Times here, and reported as:

The lab now says the first collisions, before Christmas, will be even lower, due to delays in finishing a system to protect the powerful superconducting magnets from explosive failures. The initial collisions will be at 1.1 trillion electron volts per beam, just barely above the energy of the Tevatron collider now running at CERN’s rival, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside Chicago.

I can’t find that quote on any CERN site, but it and the other details of the story do seem awfully familiar.

Unofficially, what’s known about the schedule at the moment is:

Next weekend (Nov. 7-8): Second injection test. If sector 67 is ready, beam will travel through this sector (and possibly even through sector 56) as well as the two (sectors 23 and 78) tested during the first injection test.

November 20th: First attempt to circulate beams at the injection energy of 450 GeV.

Early December: Collisions at 450 GeV.

Mid-December: Ramp to 1.1 TeV, collisions at 1.1 TeV/beam.

December 16th: Stop of beam commissioning for end-of-year break.

January 4: Restart after end-of-year break. About three weeks for hardware commissioning to 6kA, 3.5 TeV/beam.

Late January: Beam commissioning at 3.5 TeV/beam.

Early February: Collisions at 3.5 TeV/beam. First physics run soon thereafter.

Update: Not sure what to make of this. At first I found this hard to believe, but there’s another story here.

Update: I guess this actually happened: here’s something from CERN.

Update: Looks like they will be able to get a beam through 4 of the LHC’s 8 sectors this weekend.

Commenter Yatima points to this at the Register. If you believe the Register (not necessarily a good idea…), CERN’s Sergio Bertolucci is promoting the idea that the LHC will open a portal to other dimensions, so:

Summarising, then, it appears that we might be in for some kind of invasion by spontaneously swelling and shrinking spherical or wheel-shaped creatures – something on the order of the huge rumbling stone ball from Indiana Jones – able to move in and out of our plane at will. Soon the cities of humanity will lie in smoking ruins, shattered by the Attack of the Teleporting Juggernaut-tyrants from the Nth Dimension.

The writer asks LHC Machine Coordinator Mike Lamont what he thinks of all this. He suggests reading Lisa Randall’s book.

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12 Responses to Latest from the LHC

  1. Stefan says:

    Have there been any comments about the electricity bill expected for this winter, and how this could affect the schedule?

    It seems the main supply from France could be especially expensive this time, as 25% of French power plants currently are offline and France will have to import electricity starting mid-November until at least end of January.

  2. Peter Woit says:

    Stefan,

    I haven’t seen anything recently about that. Earlier this year, when they decided to not shutdown for the whole winter, they considered this cost issue in detail.

    But, since things are taking longer than expected, and a physics run won’t start until at least February, the additional energy cost should be even less than they were projecting. For much of the next three months, the machine will probably be off much of the time, and running at lower energies when it is on. I would guess that that will keep their energy bill down.

  3. cea says:

    http://washuu.net/cea-bang.htm

    A hydrogen bubble chamber at the CEA (Cambridge Electron Accelerator, Cambridge, Mass, USA) really did explode (1965), hydrogen leaked out of the BC, one person died, so the caution CERN is displaying is well-founded.

  4. Yatima says:

    I would say that caution is justified. The blowout of last year could easily have led to loss of life and limb (Are people allowed in the tunnel of live ring collider? There may be some Bremsstrahlung, which can be shielded against though.

    Anyway, more LHC weirdness from El Reg:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/06/lhc_dimensional_portals/

  5. Bob LaBla says:

    (Are people allowed in the tunnel of live ring collider?)

    No, the ring and detector areas are off-limits when the beam is on!

  6. Peter,
    I went back to my original notes. The 450 GeV and a lot of the other details were mentioned at an accelerators meeting in DC a couple of weeks ago (disclaimer, our CEO chaired a session related to it last Monday), plus there are details on CERN’s web site if you know where to look.

    You were right that the quote in the piece came from your blog. I apologize for the mistaken attribution and it has been corrected.

    I do not know where the NYTimes got their piece, but there’s been a lot of coverage in the European press, and I suspect they got it from there rather than from us.

  7. I should also add that CERN’s press office has been very helpful in confirming the revised schedule. Sometimes it pays to pick up a phone and ask 🙂

  8. Peter Woit says:

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for writing and for clearing up the attribution of the quote. I’m perfectly happy to have my words attributed to CERN, but they may feel differently…

    It’s true that reporters do something very important that bloggers don’t: call up authorities and get information + public statements from them. Maybe some of my postings can at least help make it clear what questions to ask.

  9. Martin says:

    Hi Peter,

    I assume that these delays are indeed the last. If you had to make an educated guess: When will LHC find the Higgs?

    Cheers,
    Martin

  10. Peter Woit says:

    Martin,

    The 2010 run won’t deliver enough luminosity to see the Higgs, so the earliest possibility would be data from runs in 2011 and later, analyzed in 2012 and later.

    Of course, much more interesting would be to not find the Higgs, but to find something else.

  11. Martin says:

    Peter,

    thanks for your quick reply.
    What would you guess are the chances that Fermilab will beat them to the Higgs?

    Cheers,
    Martin
    PS What other things instead of the Higgs are you hoping for?

  12. Peter Woit says:

    Martin,

    One place you could read about this question is here

    http://www.scientificblogging.com/quantum_diaries_survivor/worst_nightmare_scenario_cern_150_gev_higgs

    especially note the graph showing the probabilities of 2-sigma evidence as a function of Higgs mass.

    But 2-sigma is very marginal evidence of a particle. You need 3-sigma to claim “observation”, 5-sigma for “discovery”. My impression is that 3-sigma is possible, 5-sigma isn’t.

    About what I’m hoping for: evidence of some mechanism for electroweak symmetry breaking that no one (including me) has thought of yet…

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