The LHC Surpasses the Tevatron in Energy…But What About Power?

By John Conway | November 30, 2009 9:01 pm

Today the LHC at CERN became the planet’s highest-energy particle accelerator, surpassing the Tevatron by 20%. The LHC accelerated protons from the injection energy of 0.450 TeV (0.45 trillion electron volts) to 1.18 TeV; the Tevatron has collided protons and antiprotons with beam energies of 0.98 TeV . As early as Wednesday the LHC team plans to attempt the feat with beams circulating in both directions, and will then become the world’s highest energy particle collider in the world.

Now, let’s see if the mainstream media can start to distinguish “power” from “energy”! After all, power is total energy per unit time. All you need to do to get more power is to put more particles into the machine…the Tevatron, by this measure, is still far more powerful, with many thousands of times more particles per beam. And there are much lower-energy machines with higher total beam power. In fact it will be a while before the LHC becomes “the world’s most powerful accelerator”.

No worry, though! In the more subtle sense of the word the LHC will soon be the most powerful scientifically. (And with great power comes….yeah, yeah.) But seriously: with higher energy, which is what counts here, the LHC will be able to create new massive particles that the Tevatron simply cannot, and therefore begn to probe a new scientific realm.

At that point, it will be powerful indeed. Can’t wait!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Miscellany
  • Sili

    Considering what happened the last time, I don’t know if I want to see what happens to the beamdumps, if they up the amps as well.

    (Who am I kidding? Of course, I wanna see that!)

  • Kees

    “Now, let’s see if the mainstream media can start to distinguish “power” from “energy”! ”

    Calling it now: No

  • death by stupidity

    i do, energy is the substance releated by weapons, the quark cannon will be soon the most powerful weapon in the hsitory of mankind and shoot the Earth with quark condensates, black holes, ice-9, will make quark stars, dark atoms (tau-bc), oh la la, we shall cheer all together now ‘energy, energy, action, action, 4 legs, 4 legs’ in truly Orwellian fashion. ‘we shall die for cern, we shall die for cern’ Ave Caesar Morituri te salutant. Can this get more stupid? i doubt it.

  • http://eternal-cartesian.blogspot.com/ Cartesian

    What is sad is the ambiance in Europe especially in France, because it seems that M. Sarkozy does not like a lot the people of Brittany (where I live) ; in fact for the next regional elections he decided to not respect the vote of his party in Brittany, which did choose a candidate, because he has designated an other candidate anyway (and the main other party is not very reassuring, this is other excesses). Currently this is a bit too much like this in France : excess of authority ; so it is difficult to be proud of the LHC.

  • Most powerful collider

    I haven’t done the calculations, but an average person running into a wall (or into another person), might qualify as being the most powerful collider in the world.

  • Most powerful collider

    “Each particle accelerated in the LHC carries an amount of energy equivalent to that of a flying mosquito.”

    http://public.web.cern.ch/Public/en/Spotlight/SpotlightAandD-en.htmlMo

    Where’s my helmet?

  • OXO

    “Now, let’s see if the mainstream media can start to distinguish “power” from “energy”! ”

    Maybe they will when when physics can explain what “energy” is in ways the average person can understand. I think that’s not going to happen any time soon.

  • TimG

    OXO raises a good question: Does anyone have a good layman’s definition of energy? I’ve tried telling people “Energy is a measure of the amount of motion or potential for motion in a system.” Anyone got something better?

  • http://www.soulphysics.org Bryan

    “with great power comes…”
    http://xkcd.com/643/

  • John

    Energy is simply the capacity to do work. And, not surprisingly, physicists have their own definition of what work is. If you exert a force on an object, and that force acts through a distance, you have done work on the object. Afterward, it may be moving at some velocity, and thus it would possess kinetic energy. Or, perhaps, all that work/energy went into friction, producing heat (the vibratory motion of atoms and molecules). Or maybe that force caused a charged particle to accelerate, resulting in energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation to be given off by the particle.

    Now, I used the word “force” here, and that needs a definition too. In the absence of forces an object in uniform motion remains in that state of motion, but, if acted upon by a force for some duration, its momentum (mass times velocity) changes in the direction of the applied force. This should be taken as a definition of what a force is in physics.

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  • Just Learning

    I will second the proprietors statement on energy, and include the following reference by Mr Joule on the equivalence of heat and work:

    http://trailblazing.royalsociety.org/

    http://rstl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/140/61

    Energy, work and heat are equivalent which is why they use the same units. For instance, all three can be expressed in BTU’s (British Thermal Units).

    A Volt is a measure of energy per unit of charge. Charge is a property that an object can have. One electron charge times one volt equals one electronvolt. The electronvolt is a unit of energy.

    Temperature is a measure energy per degree of freedom. Degrees of freedom are parameters of a system. For classical systems, a particle has a certain number of degrees of freedom associated with it (6 DOF for each 3D particle). So the energy (heat) of a particle is the temperature times the degrees of freedom. I can measure this in BTU’s, I could measure this in electronvolts, but I can also use Joules…which is also a unit of energy.

    Energy density is the amount of energy per unit volume. According to Veltman, “If light is made up from photons then the energy density of light at some point at some moment is the probability of finding photons at that point at that moment times the energy of the photons.” Or in other words, the probability distribution of photons times the energy per photon is the energy density.

    Energy density and pressure are also equivalent. Pressure is force per unit of area.

    Power is also defined as current (charge passing a point per unit of time) times voltage (energy per charge) e.g. P = I x V. So in the case of the LHC, each charged particle is imparted with a certain amount of energy (naively understood as voltage)…so saying the LHC has reached a certain energy level is naively equivalent to saying it has reached a certain voltage. The number of particles circulating in the LHC can be naively understood as current. So right now, the current of the LHC is very low…this means that the power is very low (P = I x V). As more particles are injected into the collider, the current will increase, thus increasing the power of the collider.

    Hope that helps.

  • Brian137

    Now, I used the word “force” here, and that needs a definition too. In the absence of forces an object in uniform motion remains in that state of motion, but, if acted upon by a force for some duration, its momentum (mass times velocity) changes in the direction of the applied force. This should be taken as a definition of what a force is in physics.

    As long as “force” means “nonzero net force.”

  • John

    Right you are, Brian137, we mean a net force.

    After thinking more, though, I didn’t really address the question TimG raised in the context of the LHC. What might not be obvious to laypeople is that in a proton synchrotron like the LHC, the particles in the beam all have very nearly the same energy. This is because only particles whose energy matches the nominal path of particles through the magnetic field of the magnets which guide the particles around the ring manage to attain stable orbits in the ring.

    To accelerate the particles to higher energy, all one has to do is slowly raise the magnetic field of the guide magnets, and make sure that the phasing of the RF cavities matches the orbital period of the beam particles. Those particles that arrive late or early get a slightly different “kick” from the RF, keeping the beam in stable bunches whose energy increases as the magnetic field goes up.

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