The Large Hadron Collider: it's live

September 10, 2008

After over 15 years of planning and construction, the first proton beam circulated on September 10 in the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. The LHC is the highest-energy particle collider in the world with a beam energy of up to 7 TeV and allow physicists to study the fundamental particles and forces that make up our universe at energy scales that have never before been accessible. Several faculty members in the BU Physics Department are involved with the LHC physics program and the ATLAS and CMS experiments: Steve Ahlen, Tulika Bose, John Butler, Ulrich Heintz, Jim Rohlf, Larry Sulak.

Interesting links:

From John Butler: “The LHC started beam operations today and it took less than an hour, in careful steps, to get the beam completely around the entire machine for the first time. It went incredibly smoothly given the enormous complexity of the machine. The project director quipped that the beam was then traveling at 27 km/h. At a certain time, they stopped the beam in a block just upstream of the ATLAS detector and the debris from that was observed in ATLAS. Congratulations to all involved in getting to this moment.”

Says Michael Litos, BU Physics graduate student: The first beam injection of the LHC is scheduled to happen at 9:30 CET (that’s 3:30 EDT—yikes!) on September 10th. You can watch a live webcast of the event here: Can you believe it is finally going to happen? Of course at this stage it’s more about ceremony and technical experimental procedure than anything else. Yet you must admit, it’s pretty exciting stuff, even if you’re not a particle physicist. Huzzah for the next giant leap forward in our understanding of the Universe (or lack thereof)!