The LHC shut down yesterday for an end-of-year break after a very successful initial period of beam commissioning at beam energies of 450 GeV and 1.18 TeV. Tomorrow at CERN there will be public reports about the state of the LHC and the initial results from the experiments. I gather that by now all sorts of particles have been rediscovered, including kaons and lambdas, here are some details from Jim Pivarski.
There’s now a tentative schedule 2010 out. Hardware commissioning of the new quench protection system, allowing beam energies up to 3.5 TeV, will begin on January 4, and be completed by February 15. A new checkout to prepare for beam commissioning will take place Feb. 17-19, and next injection of a beam into the LHC should be around February 20. Commissioning of 3.5 TeV beams and some pilot physics runs at that energy should take a month or so, with the first regular physics runs at 3.5 TeV/beam beginning around March 25. A tentative month-long shutdown to reconfigure the machine to run at higher energy (up to 5 TeV/beam) is scheduled for May 3-June 2.
From January 25-29 machine experts will meet in Chamonix to discuss whether to try and run at 5 TeV/beam in 2010, and how to implement this if it seems feasible. Plans will also be made for the late 2010-2011 shutdown. This will require deciding what to do about all the problematic splices in the machine in order to allow operation at the design energy of 7 TeV/beam, as well as understanding how much retraining of the dipoles will be needed in order to get to that energy. Current plans call for a “long shutdown” in 2013-4 to begin some upgrades of the LHC, and this is another topic that will be discussed.
While news coverage of the LHC in science magazines like Science News has been a mixed bag, often focussing on extra-dimensional speculation irrelevant to the actual science that will get done there, there’s a quite good new article here, in a surprising location: Vanity Fair. The LHC has become a real celebrity…