The spectacular, and incredibly expensive LHC went on-line this week. Two beams of ‘hadrons’ – either protons or lead ions – will travel very fast in opposite directions inside the huge circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy. Teams of physicists from around the world will analyse the exotic and short-lived particles, possibly with interim, short-lived microscopic black holes created in the collisions. Before we all think that the end is nigh, the energy of the colliding particles is less than a mosquito in flight, so the end of the world doesn’t look as if it’s going to happen because of the LHC just yet…
There are many theories as to what will result from these collisions, but it does seem likely that a brave new world of physics will emerge from the new accelerator, as knowledge in particle physics goes on to describe the workings of the Universe. For decades, the Standard Model, unifying electromagnetism, the weak and strong nuclear force, but not gravity, has served physicists well as a means of understanding fundamental physical law, but it does not tell the whole story.
Only experimental data using the higher energies reached by the LHC can push knowledge forward, challenging those who seek confirmation of established knowledge, and those who dare to dream beyond.
Shame, really. They get their hands on the most expensive machine in the world, then a fortnight later, it springs a leak, they break it and it’s gonna take two months to fix…
It actually took 14 months to repair a spliced copper cable which caused an explosion.
The European Organisation for Nuclear Research, Cern, said in a statement on Friday that particle beams are once again circulating in the LHC, and that a clockwise circulating beam was established at 10 PM local time.
According to the Cern Twitter feed, an anticlockwise beam was also successfully injected, and both beams have completed many thousands of turns of the LHC.
“The LHC is up and running regularly. Operators are adjusting and testing obedient beams,”