Wednesday, 10 September 2008

First beam at the LHC

This afternoon, CERN will attempt to circulate a proton beam in the Large Hadron Collider for the first time, and it's turning into quite a big public event. For further information seeThe event will be covered live in a webcast. The public lecture at Sydney Uni tonight, by my colleague Kevin Varvell and the science communicator Karl Kruszelnicki, has unfortunately (or fortunately!) already sold out.

UPDATE: We got beam all the way (27 km) around the ring. It went quite smoothly, and everyone is pretty stoked. Concerning the potential of the machine, as usual, the report in the New York Times puts it well: speaking about the new physics we hope to see, they write
those discoveries are in the future. If the new collider is a car, then what physicists did today was turn on an engine, that will now sit and warm up for a couple of months before anybody drives it anywhere. The first meaningful collisions, at an energy of 5 trillion electron volts, will not happen until late fall,
meaning of course the Southern Hemisphere's spring. Serious physics running will then follow in 2009.

As for the public lecture in Sydney, I thought Kevin and Karl did a very good job. One drawback, although nothing to do with the physics: it was standing room only at the Footbridge Theatre, and they were turning people away, including folk who'd RSVP'd as they were asked to do. Not good. We can only apologise for it: events have overtaken us and we've been overwhelmed by the interest people have shown. Sorry to those who missed out.