Last night the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has circulated the highest-energy beams of particles ever produced. The beam energy has been brought up from the injection energy of 450 GeV to 1.18 TeV, thus outperforming by 20% the flattop beam energy of the Tevatron collider, Fermilab's proton-antiproton collider, which operates at a beam energy of 980 GeV.
Events are developing quickly at CERN these days. LHC is apparently willing to take revenge from a year painstakingly spent repairing the magnets, cleaning up the mess caused by the September 19th 2008 blast, and installing protection systems that will prevent similar incidents. Now, having set a new beam energy record last night, we expect to soon receive news about the first man-made collisions with energy above 2 TeV.
The last ten days have seen the first beams circulating again at 450 GeV on November 20th, the first collisions on November 23rd, and yesterday evening at 9.28PM the beams were brought to 1050 GeV. Three hours later, at 0.44AM today, the beam energy was brought up to 1180 GeV.
Of course these beams consist of a number of protons which is a tiny fraction of what the LHC is expected to line up when running at design energy and luminosity. The CMS and ATLAS detectors have collected only few tens of collisions each last week, during half hour of data taking. However, establishing the correct "trajectory" for protons inside the 27 km tunnels, away from resonances that may destroy the coherence of the beam, is a very complex task. Once that is done, however, the luminosity can be increased safely, without the risk of losing a very energetic beam somewhere in the machine. It is for the same reason that some of the components of the detectors have not been powered during the first data-taking phase last week.
These are very exciting times for CERN. I now look forward to almost daily good news from this new powerful toy that manking has just endowed itself with.
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