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Geneva, 30 November 2009. CERN's Large Hadron Collider has today become the world's highest energy particle accelerator, having accelerated its twin beams of protons to an energy of 1.18 TeV in the early hours of the morning. This exceeds the previous world record of 0.98 TeV, which had been held by the US Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory's Tevatron collider since 2001. It marks another important milestone on the road to first physics at the LHC in 2010.
"We are still coming to terms with just how smoothly the LHC commissioning is going," said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. "It is fantastic. However, we are continuing to take it step by step, and there is still a lot to do before we start physics in 2010. I'm keeping my champagne on ice until then." Last night’s achievement brings further confirmation that the LHC is progressing smoothly towards the objective of first physics early in 2010.The world record energy was first broken yesterday evening, when beam 1 was accelerated from 450 GeV, reaching 1050 GeV (1.05 TeV) at 21:28, Sunday 29 November. Three hours later both LHC beams were successfully accelerated to 1.18 TeV, at 00:44, 30 November.
"I was here 20 years ago when we switched on CERN’s last major particle accelerator, LEP," said Research and Technology Director Steve Myers. "I thought that was a great machine to operate, but this is something else. What took us days or weeks with LEP, we’re doing in hours with the LHC. So far, it all augurs well for a great research programme."
Next on the schedule is a concentrated commissioning phase aimed at increasing the beam intensity before delivering good quantities of collision data to the experiments before Christmas. So far, all the LHC commissioning work has been carried out with a low intensity pilot beam. Higher intensity is needed to provide meaningful proton-proton collision rates. The current commissioning phase aims to make sure that these higher intensities can be safely handled and that stable conditions can be guaranteed for the experiments during collisions. This phase is estimated to take around a week, after which the LHC will be colliding beams for calibration purposes until the end of the year.
First physics at the LHC is scheduled for the first quarter of 2010, at a collision energy of 7 TeV (3.5 TeV per beam).
Geneva, 23 November 2009. CERN Director General Rolf Heuer:
Today the LHC circulated two beams simultaneously for the first time, allowing the operators to test the synchronization of the beams and giving the experiments their first chance to look for proton-proton collisions. With just one bunch of particles circulating in each direction, the beams can be made to cross in up to two places in the ring. From early in the afternoon, the beams were made to cross at points 1 and 5, home to the ATLAS and CMS detectors, both of which were on the lookout for collisions. Later, beams crossed at points 2 and 8, ALICE and LHCb.
"It's a great achievement to have come this far in so short a time," said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. "But we need to keep a sense of perspective - there's still much to do before we can start the LHC physics programme."
Beams were first tuned to produce collisions in the ATLAS detector, which recorded its first candidate for collisions at 14:22 this afternoon. Later, the beams were optimised for CMS. In the evening, ALICE had the first optimisation, followed by LHCb.
"This is great news, the start of a fantastic era of **physics and hopefully discoveries after 20 years' work by the international community to build a machine and detectors of unprecedented complexity and performance,"said ATLAS spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti.
"The events so far mark the start of the second half of this incredible voyage of discovery of the secrets of nature," said CMS spokesperson Tejinder Virdee.
"It was standing room only in the ALICE control room and cheers erupted with the first collisions," said ALICE spokesperson Jurgen Schukraft. "This is simply tremendous."
"The tracks we're seeing are beautiful," said LHCb spokesperson Andrei Golutvin, "we're all ready for serious data taking in a few days time."
These developments come just three days after the LHC restart, demonstrating the excellent performance of the beam control system. Since the start-up, the operators have been circulating beams around the ring alternately in one direction and then the other at the injection energy of 450 GeV. The beam lifetime has gradually been increased to 10 hours, and today beams have been circulating simultaneously in both directions, still at the injection energy.
Next on the schedule is an intense commissioning phase aimed at increasing the beam intensity and accelerating the beams. All being well, by Christmas, the LHC should reach 1.2 TeV per beam, and have provided good quantities of collision data for the experiments' calibrations.
Geneva, 20 November 2009. CERN Director General Rolf Heuer Rolf Heuer:
"Earlier this week, the LHC was handed over for operation, and I rediscovered the long lost reflex of glancing at the status screens of CERN's flagship accelerator at every opportunity. All being well, we'll start injecting particles into the LHC tonight.
We've been here before, in September 2008. This time, however, it's different. The LHC is a much better understood machine than it was a year ago, and we can look forward with confidence to a smooth transition into physics. There will undoubtedly be hitches along the way, there always are. Magnets will trip, and there'll be power outages, but this is all normal in the operation of a major particle accelerator.
By the time you come into work next week, I hope we'll have beams circulating in the LHC. Whatever happens over the weekend, you will be able to follow progress on the CERN website, or at www.twitter.com/cern.
Circulating beam is an important milestone on the way to physics, but there is still much to do. In 2008, we showed that the LHC works beautifully as a particle storage ring, but we've yet to operate it as an accelerator and a collider. With luck, we should accomplish those objectives before the end of 2009, setting us up nicely for physics early in the New Year."
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