In the early hours this morning, boffins at the controls of the Large Hadron Collider brought the colossal particle-punisher up to beam energies of 1.18 tera-electron-volts (TeV), breaking the world atomsmasher record of 0.98 TeV held by the US Tevatron. The LHC is now officially the most powerful matter-rending machine in operation.
An excellently boffinous blow-by-blow account was offered from the control room during the crucial hours, which we reproduce here in part:
Tested the reaction time of the FMCMs on RD1.LR1, RD1.LR5, RD34.LR3, RQ4.LR7 by switching off the PCs (to avoid a WIC trigger that is even faster than the FMCM in such a case). In all cases the FMCM dumped the beam before any BLM triggered... All MPS tests were successful - excellent performance of the FMCMs.
Beam to 1.04TeV... Lost due to tune drifting [sh*t!]... Tunes for beam 1 were different when we returned to injection energy (no precycle)... Trimmed and incorporated... Ramped 2 beams, all the way to 1.18TeV !!
The old 'switch off the PCs to avoid WIC triggering' ploy, eh? Nicely done. And a smooth bit of work by the boffin on the tune drift trimmer knob at the end there by the sound of it, too.
“It is fantastic," said CERN chief Rolf Heuer modestly in a statement issued this morning. "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.”
Though this morning's 1.18 TeV twin particle beams are the most outrageously powerful ever generated by the human race, the LHC is actually designed to go far beyond this - perhaps as far as a matter-wracking 7 TeV in coming years. However, it has turned out that certain electrical connections within the LHC probably aren't up to carrying the necessary loads, so in order to avoid any further electro-blast superfluid helium explosion unpleasantnesses - of the type which crippled the colossal machine last year - there will be an initial limit of 3.5 TeV.
The first proper hadron-banging at 3.5 TeV, with proper beam intensities so as to arrange lots of horrifically violent particle prangs in the vast underground detector-array caverns, is scheduled to begin early next year. There have already been some quality collisions, though, and more can be expected - at increased energies - during the commissioning phase before Xmas.
The human race is now moving into the unknown. At any day from now on, the various promised treats offered by the Collider may start to appear. The stage is now set for the Higgs boson (and associated boffinry bitchslap for famed wheelchair robovoice brainbox Stephen Hawking); the appearance of weeny black holes, though guaranteed safe and of non-planet-imploding quality; and - just perhaps - the opening of a mysterious portal to another dimension, through which might come "something".
Splendid news all round. ®