December 19, 2009

LHC Sets New Record, Ready For Temp Shutdown

CERN's Large Hadron Collider set a new record this week in its quest to recreate Big Bang conditions and allow scientists to gain a better understanding of the nature of matter, Reuters reported.

Now, CERN plans to shut the collider down for a few months in order to get ready for even higher energy work.

"This first running period has served its purpose fully: testing all the LHC's systems, providing calibration data for the experiments and showing what needs to be done to prepare the machine for a sustained period of running at higher energy," CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer told Reuters.

"We could not have asked for a better way to bring 2009 to a close," he said in a statement.

CERN scientists say the world's most powerful particle accelerator set a record by colliding beams at 2.36 tera-electron volts (TeV), after its relaunch in November.

According to Reuters, one TeV is about the energy carried by a mosquito in flight, but when it is concentrated on a single sub-atomic particle it is much more forceful.

The previous record, which overturned a record of 1.96 TeV by Fermi, occurred on November 30, after the first beams were circulated on November 23.

Once the Hadron Collider is at full strength, it will send beams at speeds up to 7 TeV for collisions of 14 TeV.

The machine has now been put on standby and will be revved up again in February 2010 after a short stop to prepare for other work.

Last year, a magnet problem called a "quench" caused the LHC to leak a ton of liquid helium, forcing it to shut down for repairs shortly after it was switched on.


On the Net:

Large Hadron Collider