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The LHC particle accelerator, located beneath the Franco-Swiss border, is now the world's highest energy particle accelerator.  (Source: Entropy Bound)

The LHC is packed with some of the world's most advanced electronics and should unlock some incredible physics secrets.  (Source: Terra Cotta)
The Large Hadron Collider is finally getting serious, pushing the limits of particle physics

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was long billed to become the world's most powerful particle accelerator.  However, a failure last year shut it down, necessitating a yearlong repair.  Earlier this month the accelerator was fired back up and last week it completed an important benchmark -- completing its first "low" energy collisions.

The LHC, located underneath the Franco-Swiss border, accelerates streams of protons along a 17-mile long circular track, at speeds close to the speed of light.  The proton beams, contained by powerful superconducting electromagnets, travel in opposite directions and cross at intersections.  At these intersections violent collisions occur, which are logged and analyzed by advanced detectors.

Now the scientists with European Organization for Nuclear Research (better known by its French acronym CERN) are pumping up the energy of the beams and have set an incredible record.  They have upped the beam energy to 1.18 trillion electron volts at 2344 GMT on Sunday.  Before that, the beams had been operating at 450 billion electron volts to verify that everything was working properly.

To put this in context, a mosquito's entire body has approximately 1 TeV in kinetic energy.  Mosquitoes, though, have approximately 1023 to 1024 atoms in them, each with one or more protons.  The LHC puts the equivalent energy of these countless trillions of atoms into a single proton, an incredible accomplishment.

The LHC now stands as king of the particle accelerator world, deposing the former best, the Tevatron.  Located within the U.S. near Batvia, Illinois, the Tevatron was capable of operation at 0.98 trillion electron volts since 2001.  It is likely to be soon shut down, now that the LHC appears ready to take over duties as the world's strongest particle accelerator.

CERN's director general Rolf Heuer was pleased with the news but remained reserved, stating, "We are still coming to terms with just how smoothly the LHC commissioning is going.  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."

In 2010, the LHC is expected to pump the beams up to an unbelievable 7 TeV -- over 7 times the previous record.  With collisions at a net energy of 14 TeV, the accelerator is expected to unlock some of the universe's strangest mysteries, such as the detection of the long theorized Higgs boson, nicknamed the "God particle".  That's not too shabby for a particle accelerator with the prospective net energy of 14 mosquitoes.

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RE: Really ?
By amanojaku on 11/30/2009 10:10:46 AM , Rating: -1
CERN is located in Switzerland. The economy is very strong there, with unemployment less than 4%. Ours is around 18%, so yeah, according to him the economy is strong. :-)

Anyways, considering the damage this thing came back online relatively quick. The US can only dream of being a year behind on any project.

RE: Really ?
By noxipoo on 11/30/2009 1:56:13 PM , Rating: 4
What country are you from that has 18% unemployment? This thing wasn't paid by just Switzerland, CERN has 20 European members and this thing was paid for by 100 some countries. Last I checked EU had something like 8-9% unemployment.

The US has plenty of on time scientific projects, send your hate somewhere else.

RE: Really ?
By amanojaku on 11/30/2009 2:19:48 PM , Rating: 3
The US, of which I am a citizen, has an official unemployment rate of 10.5% (15.7M). This assumes that 155M Americans work, out of the +300M in the populace.

Additionally, there are 9.3M part time workers, who would otherwise be full time.

Then there are 2.4M unemployed workers who were not added to the 15.7M because they did not look for work 4 weeks prior to the survey.

So... ((15.7+9.3+2.4) / 155) * 100 = 17.6%

And how is it hateful to say the government is regularly behind on projects? The last time I checked, increased costs due to delays and poor planning is the first thing we cry about. Because it raises our taxes.

RE: Really ?
By noxipoo on 11/30/2009 2:23:11 PM , Rating: 2
Did you add all those part-time and unemployed workers for Switzerland? How about you calculate it for the EU and make your statements about how the economy is doing so well for LHC countries.

RE: Really ?
By amanojaku on 11/30/2009 3:02:05 PM , Rating: 1
WTF are you talking about? I wasn't comparing the US to the EU, I was comparing the US to Switzerland.
CERN is located in Switzerland . The economy is very strong there ( Switzerland ), with unemployment less than 4%. Ours is around 18%, so yeah, according to him ( Rolf Heuer ) the economy is strong. :-)
Sure, the EU paid for it, but I'm pretty sure Rolf Heuer wasn't talking about all of Europe when he said the economy is strong. It damn sure isn't, except for Switzerland.

RE: Really ?
By saidone on 12/1/2009 6:26:30 AM , Rating: 1
Switzerland is a very rich country. They have plenty of money. Don't mention that most of that money came by trafficking, money laundering and so on by the largest criminal organizations, and thanks to their secretive (and hoping that will be declared illegal soon) banking system.

RE: Really ?
By Strunf on 12/1/2009 8:13:36 AM , Rating: 1
The money may be in Switzerland but it's not being made there... how about you hunt the criminals instead of the banks, you think that criminals don't have other places where to put money? I see more than one country that would be more than happy to get money in their banks regardless where it comes from.

RE: Really ?
By saidone on 12/1/2009 8:35:07 AM , Rating: 3
One of the most effective things to do to fight criminal organizations is to block their finance, a thing that Switzerland actually does not allow.
However, I like Emmental very much.

RE: Really ?
By DOSGuy on 11/30/2009 7:24:23 PM , Rating: 3
"Additionally, there are 9.3M part time workers, who would otherwise be full time."

Underemployed != unemployed. Those people would like to work more, but they're not unemployed! You can't mix unemployment and underemployment numbers and call it an unemployment statistic.

So... ((15.7+2.4) / 155) * 100 = 11.67%

RE: Really ?
By amanojaku on 11/30/2009 9:11:46 PM , Rating: 2
The Bureau of Labor Statistics and its parent, United States Department of Labor, disagrees. Unemployment statistics consist of six classifications, U1-U6. U3 is the "official unemployment statistic" presented to the public as most people don't understand the other stats.

The government views underemployment to be just as bad as unemployment. The US is a capitalist country; why offer unemployment benefits? So that the economy doesn't go down the toilet. You get no wages, you can't pay your bills. You don't pay your bills, the next guy can't pay his bills. Domino effect.

The same situation exists for underemployment. In order for the economy to function people need to spend. The less money they have the less they spend, and the economy goes down the toilet. A person who used to make $100K suddenly has to make do with 20 hours a week at $10 an hour, if the gods are kind. $200 a week is ~$10K annually, 10% of the original salary. There's less taxes for the government, less cash to spend on necessities, and only the foolish spend their pennies on luxuries. The government feels unemployment and underemployment must both be tackled if the economy is to thrive. Our current situation is basically the chicken-and-egg problem of "I have no money, so I can't spend" and "I am not making any money, so I can't hire".

From one of the sources below:
U-1 Persons unemployed 15 weeks or longer, as a percent of the civilian labor force

U-2 Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs, as a percent of the civilian labor force

U-3 Total unemployed, as a percent of the civilian labor force (official unemployment rate)

U-4 Total unemployed plus discouraged workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus discouraged workers

U-5 Total unemployed, plus discouraged workers, plus all other marginally attached workers, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers

U-6 Total unemployed, plus all marginally attached workers, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers

RE: Really ?
By DOSGuy on 11/30/2009 9:15:12 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not saying that underemployment is bad, but it's better to work part-time than not at all. Portraying the underemployed as unemployed makes the situation look worse than it really is.

Okay, what does all this have to do with the LHC again?

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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