Exclusive The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), most powerful particle-smasher ever assembled by the human race and possible portal to other dimensions, is to fire up its beams following the Xmas break in a week's time.
Official spokesmen for international particle-punishing science alliance CERN have thus far remained cagey about the exact date for the mighty machine's restart, but persons familiar with the matter tell the Reg that the 2010 proton billiards season is set to open on Thursday the 25th.
Our sources suggest that the initial beams will be relatively gentle 450 giga-electron-volt ones, for a mild 900 GeV collision energy. The following few weeks will see the Big Knob turned gradually up until the beams are at 3.5 tera-electron-volts and particles are thus colliding at 7 TeV.
The LHC is designed to go still further to a blistering 14 TeV, but boffinry chiefs fear that cranking it up that high might lead to another electro-blast liquid helium superfluid explosion disaster of the sort which crippled the LHC following its original startup in 2008. The plan is to run it this year at half power, hopefully beating the rival US Tevatron in the race to find the coveted Higgs boson, and then carry out modifications which will allow full-poke operations.
Next week's fire-up will also, of course, be the cue for a large cast of eccentric LHC-fearing doom prophets to clap tinfoil hat on head and dive under the bed - or, in the case of more hardline members of the anti-Collider movement, take more active measures. Our candidate for world champion heavyweight LHC-botherer, the man known simply as "Doctor Dark Energy", says he plans to obtain a nuclear weapon from Osama bin Laden and use it to take out CERN head Rolf Heuer - "and all his bigbangers".
We certainly hope he doesn't manage it: we here on the Reg dimensional-portal desk are looking forward to the advent of visitors from beyond our continuum, as forecast by top CERN boffin Sergio Bertolucci. Even if they are liable to be merely sub-subatomic, ultra-briefly-existing phenomena, rather than the possible teleporting juggernaut-tyrants from the Nth dimension. ®