Neither baguette-dropping birds nor future sabatoge schemes could stop the LHC this week. And no, the world was not sucked into a black hole, as you may have noticed. Shortly after flinging the first proton beams around the collider, the first particle collisons were recorded. After 14 months of repairs, Cern engineers have got the Large Hadron Collider to smash particles together far sooner than anyone dared hope. For the time being the collisions are low energy, around 450 billion electronvolts per beam, which is around half the energy of what remains, for now, the world’s most powerful particle collider: the Tevatron at Fermilab on the outskirts of Chicago [Guardian]. The LHC’s Atlas detector snapped an image of two counter-rotating proton beams that collided head-on.
Scientists are hopeful that this first collison will lead to smoother operations in the future, but they are being cautious considering the LHC’s laundry list of past failures. The European collider is intended to eventually collide proton beams at an energy of seven trillion electron volts. The first experiments in the LHC are scheduled to take place in early 2010, when researchers will smash subatomic particles into each other at high speeds in order to break them down and allow the discovery of smaller, more fundamental particles [CBC News]. CERN has an image gallery of the LHC’s first run here.
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