March 23, 2010

CERN Sets Date For First 7 TeV Attempt

Having already successfully completed an output of 3.5 trillion electron volts (TeV) using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), officials at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have announced plans to attempt collisions of at least 7 TeV on March 30.

CERN made the announcement in a Tuesday press release, noting that they will look to utilize two beams, each reaching the 3.5 TeV output threshold. In preparation for the 7 TeV attempt, they LHC crew will be spending the next week working with the beams to commission the control and protection systems in the collider unit.

"With two beams at 3.5 TeV, we're on the verge of launching the LHC physics program," CERN's Director for Accelerators and Technology, Steve Myers, said in the March 23 statement. "But we've still got a lot of work to do before collisions. Just lining the beams up is a challenge in itself: it's a bit like firing needles across the Atlantic and getting them to collide half way."

"The LHC is not a turnkey machine," added Myers. "The machine is working well, but we're still very much in a commissioning phase and we have to recognize that the first attempt to collide is precisely that. It may take hours or even days to get collisions."

The LHC team is attempting to uncover evidence of the Higgs boson, also known as "God Particle".  The Higgs boson is believed to be a scalar elementary particle that currently exists only hypothetically. Through their experiments, however, CERN scientists are hoping to confirm its existence, thus expanding our knowledge of particle physics and resolving inconsistencies in current theories.

Last Friday, the LHC first reached the 3.5 TeV output level, shattering the record for the highest beam energy level ever achieved by a particle collider. After achieving that milestone, which CERN officials called "an important step" in their research, they immediately turned their attention to the next stage in their experiments -- namely, the 7 TeV attempt now scheduled for March 30.


On the Net: