At 5:23 am in Geneva this morning, for the first time the two LHC beams were ramped up to high energy, the 3.5 TeV/beam that they plan to run at for the next two years. These are the highest energy (per particle) beams ever created by human beings, significantly surpassing the value at which the Tevatron operates (.98 TeV/beam) as well as the record achieved last fall (1.18 TeV/beam) during the early stages of beam commissioning.
From now on, work will continue on preparing the machine to operate at higher intensity (for now they are using low-intensity pilot beams). For the next week or two, one of the challenges will be to carefully avoid any interesting collisions between particles in the two beams, since a major media event is being organized around the first collisions, and the event is tentatively scheduled for March 30.
Update: CERN press release is here.
Update: CERN has confirmed in a press release that first collisions will be attempted on March 30.
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