Thursday, September 11, 2008

The LHC turns on. We're Still Alive!

Though I am late, you know I had to post about the start up of the LHC.

The LHC should become a very exciting experiment. We have never, as humans, gone up a magnitude in energy scale without seeing new physics. The only question is what will the new physics be. (If this becomes the first time we went up a magnitude in energy and see nothing that would really be depressing.)

As you might have guessed, I really am pulling for some verification of supersymmetry. That alone will clear up volumes of theoretical problems. Sure I welcome any new physics, but something as elegant as supersymmetry with incredible explanation power is something I am really pulling for.

One exciting thing, which few people outside of particle physics talk about, is the LHC will have nearly 100 times the luminosity of the Tevetron at Fermilab. To first order this means, in a perfect world, that the LHC will see as much in one year as the Tevetron would see in a century! There is hope for a upgrade in the future that will boost the LHC's luminosity even another order of magnitude.

This experiment should run for decades to come. (It fact, the upgrade is probably about a decade away.) Between the extra order of magnitude in energy, and the extra 2-3 orders of magnitude in luminosity, we should expect great things.

*Note*: The experimentalists I talk to here think the experiments won't really be going full steam for another 6 months. Sure the beam is circulating now, but the detector is still not 100% completed, software is still being written and there is a good chance as they observe the current data they will find things are misaligned etc... Plus, the machine itself is not yet running at full capacity. So, hopefully, some time in the next year or two the discoveries will begin.


  1. Don't be too sure that by turning on the LHC we haven't already doomed the planet. I read a lovely "theory" yesterday that the micro-black holes could stick around for a while undetected and then all of the sudden start to rapidly grow and DESTROY THE PLANET!!!!

    That is if artificial intelligence researchers don't produce a self-aware machine that decides to kill us all first. Or maybe biologists will create an unstoppable super-virus that will turn us all into vampires.

    Oh the perils of science...

  2. "That is if artificial intelligence researchers don't produce a self-aware machine that decides to kill us all first. "

    It is always fun hearing the dooms day scenarios people lay out. I think it would be an interesting psychology project to examine why many humans, as soon as they hear any new idea, immediately speculate how it could destroy society.

  3. You're all wrong on your calculations! Don't you know that the earth is supposed to end in 2009 (yes some people say it's supposed to be December 21, 2012, but they're wrong according to MY calculations!). So it will end in 2009 because they have not brought the LHC to full beam yet and they will shut it down over the winter for calibration and maintenance, Which means, next year they will bring it to full beam and DESTROY THE PLANET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (on a serious note: That was a minor footnote that was in about 1/2 of the news articles about the LHC, that they have not brought it to full beam and they are going to take a while to calibrate it and to make sure there are no problems. I have heard estimates ranging from 6 weeks to 6 months for this job. Having worked with actual experimental equipment I know how hard it can be to actually get something to work properly. Wednesday's celebration was nothing more than "Hurray it didn't blow up/break down or kill us! Now lets see if it is actually working.")


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