LHC Beam Zooms Past 1 Trillion Electron Volts, Sets World Record

By Andrew Moseman | November 30, 2009 9:57 am

lhcwide425Long 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].

Related Content:
80beats: Baguettes and Sabateurs from the Future Defeated: LHC Smashes Particles
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DISCOVER: A Tumultuous Year at the LHC
Cosmic Variance: First Collisions at the LHC!
Cosmic Variance: Spooky Signals from the Future Telling Us to Cancel the LHC!

Image: Claudia Marcelloni / CERN

  • Jimmy the pud

    How many pieces of toast would that make? Or, how many electric chairs could it power?

  • Ann Nymus

    None and none, respectively.

  • Robert LeClare

    I love watching history in the making. This is the same feeling I had when I watched the first Moon landing!

  • Jeffrey Wiedl

    To expand a bit on Ann’s comment:
    A proton (or other particle) at full speed in the LHC:
    7 trillion electron Volts
    7.0 * 10 ^9 eV. –> 7,000,000,000 eV

    A 100 watt light bulb burning for one hour:
    2.2 * 10 ^24 eV –> 2,200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 eV.

    So the light bulb represents 3.1* 10 ^14 (that’s 310,000,000,000,000) times the energy of the particle accelerated in the LHC.

    7 trillion eV is really, really small.

  • Andy Lawler

    If it takes 60 seconds to toast two pieces of bread in a 1000 Watt toaster (roughly realistic), each piece of bread takes 3000 joules to toast. The LHC, at the time of this post, puts roughly 1.18 trillion electron volts on each particle, which is about 1.89 × 10-7 Joules. So each particle could theoretically toast about 63 billionths of a piece of toast.

    A lot more energy goes into the LHC, so if you were trying to make a point about its massive energy use, you’re still right. The LHC consumes as much energy as a small city.

  • Wil


    Way to go! This is good stuff!

  • Kev

    To expound upon Andy’s comment:

    Knowledge, whether it be in particle physics or in love and marriage is often terribly expensive. But, you can later use it to great effect… 😉

  • http://new4gphone.com/ Jonathan

    The majority of these things turn out to be nothing at all,” a spokesman says. “It is very speculative at this stage, but there is a great deal of excitement and anticipation that something will be found, which is probably why this has found its way onto the Internet


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