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Located beneath the Franco-Swiss border, the world's largest and most power particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), recorded proton beam collision for the first time yesterday.  (Source: CERN)

The observed aftermath likely resembled this color release from a simulated collision.  (Source: CERN)

The ATLAS detector was the first to spot a beam collision yesterday.  (Source: Scientific American)
After a rocky start the LHC is getting serious, looks to soon pack "7 mosquitoes" worth of energy into a single proton

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is set to unlock complex mysteries of the universe, such as the never-before-observed Higgs boson, dark matter, antimatter, and more.  However, before much of that landmark work can commence, the particle accelerator needs to be able to complete collisions and ramp up to higher energy collisions.

Last week it was announced that the particle beams had fully circulated around the LHC for the first time in over a year.  The accelerator had been offline until this August due to damage.  A bad electrical connection had caused extensive damage and forced a shutdown last Fall, and intensive repair process was delayed by the winter.

With repairs at last complete, and beams circulated, this week researchers decided to bump the testing up to collisions. 

To gain a proper perspective on these collisions, it's first important to understand how they work.  Housed 100 meters under the Franco-Swiss border, the LHC sends proton beams hurtling in opposite directions down a 17-mile-long track at close to the speed of light.  The beams are bent in the proper direction by over 1,200 massive superconducting magnets. The beams cross at allotted spots, and the protons contain within collide.  The results are captured by four advanced detectors bordering the crossing points -- ATLAS, the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), Alice and LHCb.  Atlas and CMS are general purpose detectors, while the remaining two are special purpose detectors.

On Monday, coinciding with a CERN press conference, at 1322 GMT the Atlas detector became the accelerator's first to record a collision.  The Alice and LHCb recorded collisions at 1600 GMT.  And with a bit of tweaking collisions were recorded by the Compact Muon Solenoid detector at 1800 GMT. 
Fabiola Gianotti, spokesperson for the Atlas scientific team comments, "This is great news, the start of a fantastic era of physics and hopefully discoveries after 20 years' work by the international community."

CERN's director-general Rolf Heuer comments, "It's a great achievement to have come this far in so short a time.  But we need to keep a sense of perspective - there's still much to do before we can start the LHC physics programme."

The collider already offers an extreme environment, with particles moving at close to the speed of light and temperatures of 1.9 degrees Kelvin.  While some might wonder why those temperatures are necessary, they're designed to simulate conditions at the time of the Big Bang, the cosmological event that created the universe as we know it. 

However, in order to get closer to these conditions, the energy of the beams will need to be bumped up from low-to-moderate power to 7 TeV (14 TeV combined).  A flying mosquito has approximately 1 TeV of kinetic energy.  While "14 mosquitos" worth of combined energy may not seem like much, its a massive achievement for man to pack that much energy into a pair of protons.



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Fixed it for you.
By ThePooBurner on 11/24/2009 2:01:47 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
While some might wonder why those temperatures are necessary, they're designed to simulate what they think are the conditions at the time of the Big Bang, the theoretical cosmological event that they think created the universe as we know it, which the experiments at the LHC hope to prove took place, seeing as it is only a theory at this point, is totally unproven, and shouldn't be being spoken of as fact.


Fixed it for you.




RE: Fixed it for you.
By v3rt1g0 on 11/24/2009 7:11:45 PM , Rating: 5
So, the "only a theory" wingnuts are getting 5's now? Interesting.


RE: Fixed it for you.
By Schrag4 on 11/24/2009 8:13:28 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps you're reading too much into his post. Why even build LHC if they already know these things for facts?


RE: Fixed it for you.
By gamerk2 on 11/25/2009 8:59:32 AM , Rating: 2
Because of people who don't believe the facts?

The Big Bang is relativly well understood, but even a very small change in any starting condition can have drastic impact on the growth of the system. As such, testing the initial conditions can lead to far greater insight into the initial aftermatch (.losts of zeros seconds :D) of the Big Bang.

In the end, the cycle of the Universe is likely Big Bang -> Big Crunch -> Big Bang -> Big Crunch (repeat for infinity). As for the creation of matter in the first place...thats another discussion (a time travel pardox for matter could make some sense though, but that would mean everything is a paradox...*head explodes*)

I should also point out Gravity is also a theory (despite the fact all of modern astronemy/physics is built upon its existence) because no one is sure what exactly GENERATES gravitional force (we know its propotional to size, and its the weakest force, but thats about it...). That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but it means farther testing is needed in order to understand it.


RE: Fixed it for you.
By ThePooBurner on 11/25/2009 2:50:27 PM , Rating: 1
And they would know the starting conditions how? The big bang theory is junk. The fact that red-shift has showing that things are accelerating away from us (as opposed to slowing down as the BBT would suggest) is pretty damning to it. To presume that after such a small amount of time of observation we can know how the universe as we know it was formed is ludicrous. It is still only a theory, and nothing more. Like i said, this is one of the reasons the LHC was built: to prove the theory because it's the first lab that will actually let us prove or disprove it. Everything up to this point has been little more than conjecture and speculation.

Gravity can be solidly observed and measured and such. All we have for the big bang is that we see stuff moving away from us, and there is radiation everywhere in space. The theory is just one way of trying to come up with an explanation for it. A pretty stupid one at that. Its actually unfortunate that everyone has such a hard-on for the BBT that they don't bother investigating other possibilities and theories. Well, not until the LHC shows them they were wrong and need to come up with a new way of thinking anyway.


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