Expensive science experiment readies for smashups

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Beams of protons will be shot all the way around the 17 mile track of pipes forming the core of the Large Hadron Collider within the next few days.

The LHC, the large physics experiment located far underground in Geneva, Switzerland, was supposed to debut a year ago, but an accident cut short plans to start colliding powerful beams of protons. The repairs now complete, LHC scientists are once again close to reaching their physics goal, which is to smash together speeding protons (tiny particles usually lying at rest inside atoms) in order to observe never-before-seen phenomena.

For the last few weeks engineers have been preparing for full collisions by performing some tests. These included sending a beam of protons part of the way around the ring and letting them smash into a fixed target. These  produced “splash events,” named for the cascade of particles sent flying into nearby detectors, in order to make sure everything was ready for the official experiment, which is expected to begin around Dec. 1 or shortly thereafter. 

The cost of the LHC is reckoned to be some $10 billion.

Phillip F. Schewe reports for Inside Science News Service.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Ellen Wallace on 11/23/2009 - 12:35 pm.

    We’ve been covering this fairly extensively, as a Geneva-based online community newspaper. Anyone who wants to read more can search genevalunch cern tag (or go directly to http://genevalunch.com/blog/tag/cern/).

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