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The LHC conducted its first collisions, pictured here, in 2009. It plans to operate at low power in 2010 and 2011 and then undergo an upgrade before leaping directly to full power.  (Source: CERN)

The LHC cost over $9B USD to complete, but promises to unlock some of the universe's most compelling mysteries.  (Source: CERN)
Full power collisions will begin in 2013 -- after upgrade

September of 2008 was set to be a landmark year for the physics community.  The Large Hadron Collider, a massive 17-mile-long track beneath the Franco-Swiss border was coming online and promised to at last allow physicists to glimpse the long theorized, but never observed Higgs boson, nicknamed the "God particle".

However, a malfunction killed those hopes, pushing the launch back to 2009.  A cold winter slowed repairs and it was August 2009 when the repairs finally wrapped up.  In November the collider was brought back online at last.  Within days it recorded its first collisions and before long set a new world record -- despite operating at a mere fraction of its prospective power.

Amid a winter shutdown, researchers are now planning their next move, even as they sift through a wealth of data collected from the initial collisions.  This week they laid out an ambitious plan for the collider.

In 2010 and 2011 they plan to operate the collider at 3.5 TeV per beam, much more than 1.18 TeV per beam recorded in November, and significantly more than the previous record holder, the U.S.-based Fermilab, which has achieved 1 TeV beams.  To put these numbers in context, a mosquito has about 1 TeV in kinetic energy -- but it has 10
23 to 1024 atoms in them, many with dozens of protons.  The LHC is packing all this energy into a single proton -- a feat akin to packing all the people in the world into a square smaller than the tiniest transistor.

According to the LHC road map, the collider will shut down in 2012, skipping "mid-range" collisions of around 5 TeV per beam.  Instead, it will receive a circuitry upgrade to help it handle its peak designed power -- 7 TeV per beam.  In 2013 it will begin collisions at a record combined energy of about 14 TeV -- about 14 mosquitoes per proton pair, in layman's terms.

Until the LHC achieves peak power in 2013, FermiLab still has a chance to beat it and be the first to observe the Higgs boson.  However, if the particle is less lightweight, it will likely not be observed until the LHC cranks up the juice.

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RE: Weak Forces
By porkpie on 2/4/2010 11:16:35 AM , Rating: 2
First of all, let me apologize for whoever rated you down. I don't agree with your post, but you expressed yourself eloquently..and one of your points is certainly accurate. Certainly the standard model has problems, which is why we're looking at things beyond it. I recognize the fact that modern theory has given us essentially nothing in the past 50 years (we're still cannabilizing the great achievements of the 1920s-1950s), but remember that classical mechanics lasted us several centuries, and included several periods of many decades where little to no progress was made.

In short -- be patient, young grasshopper!

I believe we have overlooked that last important part - experimentation
What do you think we build a massive supercollider for? To do nothing but collect experimental data.

If the LHC fails to turn up the Higgs Boson, then it will automatically give much more credence to other models, such as my own personal favorite:

Anyway, it'll be a net win...though its doubtful we see any practical applications from this experiment for 50 years or so.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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