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: 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.