News from CERN, Witten Interview

The new CERN Bulletin is available, and it contains a link to a recent video interview of Witten, who has been visiting CERN during the past year.

Some other things in this issue:

  • Bill Gates recently visited the LHC, bringing his son Rory. Gates announced:

    I just bought the rights to the Feynman ‘Messenger Lectures’ that he gave in Cornell [University] in the 1960s. The BBC filmed Feynman giving what I think are the best physics lectures I have ever seen. So we are going to make these lectures free for anyone to watch.

  • There’s news about the LHC restart here and here, including the warming up of sector 4-5 discussed in postings here recently. Here’s what Director General Heuer has to say:

    The bottom line is that we remain on course to restart the LHC safely this year, albeit at reduced energy.

    A tremendous amount of work has been done to fully understand the splices in the LHC’s superconducting cable, one of which was the root cause of the incident last September that brought the LHC to a standstill. We’ve learned a great deal. It’s mostly good news but there’s also plenty of food for thought. The good news is that all the measurements done so far indicate that we will be ready by September or October to run the LHC safely at around 4-5 TeV per beam. If new evidence appears in the meantime to suggest otherwise, we’ll modify the energy for this year’s run accordingly. The food for thought is that the same tests tell us that before we can run safely above 5 TeV, more work is needed, and this will be carried out in a shutdown starting in Autumn 2010.

    Many of you will have heard, or seen on the LHC web pages, that we’re warming up sector 4-5. This sector can be warmed and re-cooled within the time remaining before we inject the first beam of 2009 into the LHC, and doing so will give us increased confidence that we fully understand the splices. We’re warming up this sector because we have developed a new non-invasive technique for investigating the splices. The sector has been measured at a temperature of 80K, indicating a suspect splice or splices. By warming the sector, the results of the test can be checked at room temperature, thereby validating the procedure at 80K. If the 80K measurements are validated, any suspect splices in this sector will be repaired.

    From this, it sounds like the current plan is to not wam up the cold sectors, but reach a decision on what the highest energy they can safely run at in case of a quench, given their understanding of remaining problems with bad splices. This might mean running below the planned 5 TeV/beam.

  • On July 1 CERN will be providing training for its employees on how to deal with the press.
  • On July 2 there will be a talk by Steve Myers on the LHC status
  • Update: While the CERN DG indicates readiness of the LHC for start-up in “September or October”, the most up-to-date schedule (which somehow came into my possession this morning…) shows powering tests in sectors 4-5 and 8-1 going through the end of October, so machine checkout and first beam not until the beginning of November.

    Update: There’s now a press release. According to this, they are now planning to start up at some energy in the range 4-5 TeV, currently 2-3 weeks behind schedule (so start-up second half of October).

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    4 Responses to News from CERN, Witten Interview

    1. chris says:

      very interesting

      the marketing speak they adopted (good news vs. food for thought) and also the ever so slightly decreasing beam energy (4TeV now – what will it end up being?) and slipping schedule (first beam end of december as it seems).

      maybe it was not such a good idea celebrating September 10 2008 so publicly. or is Holger Nielsen right after all?

    2. Sorinis says:


      It might end up beeing the same energy as the Tevatron. Wouldn’t that be funny? It is also interesting that Peter has seen the latest schedule but Heuer somehow has not. Makes you wonder about the lax attitude at CERN. I think you are right. CERN has a long history of declaring success before even operating. We’ve gone from discovering all the secrets of the universe including extra dimensions to a really humiliating media spin about a freefloating schedule and ever decreasing energies.

      They may have lectures on dealing with the press but you can’t put a positive spin on this.

    3. Cplus+ says:

      le Déluge commence.

      From Luca Trevisan:

      “Two days ago, the Chancellor announced that because of the cuts expected as a consequence of the state-wide budget crisis, UC Berkeley needs to cut about $100 millions. Next year, we should expect a complete freeze on hiring, layoffs of administrative staff, strong cuts to student aid, increased tuition, and salary cuts of 8%. For 2010-2011, rumors are that the sun will go dark, it will rain blood from the sky, and then the locusts will come and eat us alive. Unfortunately, 2011-2012 will be much worse…”

      If the markets resume their decline during the next two years, nearly all the University Endowment funds, which to date have been only badly damaged, will be unable to contribute to cover operating expenses and the non-public universities will experience the same or posssibly worse.

    4. Thomas R Love says:

      I was happy to hear that Gates will make Feynman’s Lectures available. Our library has them on film but the film is in very bad shape. It will be a pleasure to watch them again but without having to change the film reels!

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