Long hyped as the largest science experiment ever built, the Large Hadron Collider now has a world record for doing something: accelerating particles with more energy than any accelerator ever has.
On Sunday evening, at 6:44 p.m. eastern time in the United States, engineers at the Switzerland-based accelerator increased the energy of this “pilot beam”, reaching 1.18 trillion electron volts…. The previous record of 0.98 trillion electron volts has been held by the Tevatron accelerator since 2001 [BBC News].
It comes as no surprise that the LHC blew by the record held by Tevatron, which is operated by Fermilab on the outskirts of Chicago. Eventually, the LHC should operate at about 7 trillion electron volts in its pursuit of the Higgs Boson and other physics mysteries. But with all the trouble getting the 17-mile-around particle smasher ring up and running, scientists weren’t taking anything for granted.
The LHC’s managers will now use these high-energy collisions to make sure the machine is properly calibrated and to decide how quickly to increase the energy level in advance of undertaking major physics experiments next year, according to Lyn Evans, project manager of the LHC. “The machine is working like a dream. It’s brilliant. By the end of the week we should be really moving” [The Guardian].
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Image: Claudia Marcelloni / CERN