Daily Archives: March 31st, 2010

LHC Collides Particles, Earth Still Here

Yesterday the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) started colliding particle beams that have been charged up to seven trillion electron volts, hoping to find exotic new particles never seen before in science.

Several theories surrounded the troubled start-up, ranging from forming micro-black-holes engulfing the planet to time traveling qubits from the future coming back in time preventing its start.

Eventually in the end, start-up happened at 1:00 p.m. GMT and the show began:

The Large Hadron Collider near Geneva succeeded early Tuesday in smashing subatomic particles together at more than three times the highest levels previously recorded, eliciting cheers from a crowd watching at Caltech and pushing two sometimes-separate strains of particle physicists together in what is likely to be a show of things to come.

Under two clocks, one labeled “Geneva” and another labeled “Caltech,” Bertrand Echenard and Matthew Buckley passed midnight with pizza, discovering that they both studied high-energy cosmic ray particle collisions. But Echenard is an experimentalist; Buckley a theorist.

“It’s funny; I’ve seen him at meetings for the last two years,” Buckley said of his fellow postdoctoral candidate. “Turns out we’re working on the same thing.”

With the particle collisions, the work — and the worlds — of experimental and theoretical physicists would seem to overlap a bit further.

Only minutes after the first recorded collision, at 3:58 a.m., physicists from various specialties were taking a look at the resulting photos, the first in what promises to be a flood of data from the two beams of protons smashing into each other at a total energy level of 7 trillion electron volts.

Based on experiences with other colliders, it could have taken days for the first collision to occur. Instead, the first collision came only hours after a few failed attempts.

“There were cheers in all the control rooms,” said Caltech physicist Harvey Newman. “As soon as we get the data, we’re analyzing it. . . . It’s been a long time coming.”

Well, we’re still here and the Earth didn’t disappear into subatomic particles.

So much for that dooms-day theory.

Better luck in 2012 folks!  😆

Large Hadron Collider rewards scientists watching at Caltech