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Big Bang Day

Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:36 pm
by jsmaje
Tomorrow is (slightly misleadingly) being called 'Big Bang Day' by the media here in Europe. It will be the first attempt to guide a single proton beam all the way round the 27 kilometers of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) at CERN (European Centre for Particle Physics, where incidentally the World Wide Web was born) just outside Geneva. Straddling underground the borders of Switzerland, France and Germany, it is the largest and most powerful particle collider yet built worldwide.

For UK listeners BBC Radio 4 will be broadcasting from Geneva and presenting many related programs throughout the day. For everyone, CERN itself will also be providing a live webcast at

Eventually (in a few months?) the experiment proper will start, i.e. actually colliding counter-circulating protons at energies thought to have existed at the time of the original 'Big Bang'. The aim is to find evidence for or against various theoretical quantum constructions such as the putative mass-giving Higgs particle, particle supersymmetry, hidden dimensions, etc.

Of course there are scare stories that a mini-black hole might thereby be created, sucking us all into oblivion! Let's hope Prof Steven Hawking and quantum theory is right that any such hole would almost instantaneously evaporate before any harm could be done. Personally I feel grateful for the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy (and most others) without which I suspect we and our solar system wouldn't be here at all. Meanwhile, I wouldn't want it located in Geneva!

Keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow's 'startup'.

Big Bang Day

Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2008 4:39 pm
by Mitchell Criswell III
Thanks for the heads up, John.
Happy Big Bang Day everyone.

Big Bang Day

Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2008 3:00 pm
by jsmaje
Success! :D

Congratulations to all at CERN. I watched the live feed on Swiss TV as they managed this morning to get the first proton beams (comprising packets of 20 billion protons at a time) round all eight stages of the 27 kilometer LHC, taking only an hour to tweak the thousands of superconducting magnets (which needed cooling below the universal background temperature) and get them arrive back where they started. They had previously estimated it might take 4 hours - the tweaking that is, not the beam, which of course travels close to the speed of light.

In the afternoon they repeated the feat, again taking just an hour, getting counter-rotating beams to do the same. They even debated whether to try colliding them there and then, but decided more testing was needed to ensure both beams can circulate continuously and reliably over several minutes/hours. We'll know in a few days if all goes to plan.

Meanwhile, for those who don't know what it's all about, here's what I can recall of the UK's Guardian newspaper's explanation:
'The 27 kilometer large haddock collider will smash together a stream of barnacles at 47 times the speed of matter, recreating the conditions last seen at the time of Big Ben.'

They also had this helpful equation, something like:
(365.93745 - Guesswork) / (£50b - Toblerone^23)

Who knows, they could be right!
:lol: John

Too Late

Posted: Thu Sep 18, 2008 7:20 am
by fjgiie

Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:10 am
by greuti
"Too late..." Hey, there's a reset button! Phew!

Such a growing black hole could have nice conveniences here in comparison to the rest of the world. Such as longer life time, stronger musculature and last but not least I will live to see the end of the stardust@home project :wink:

@John, Switzerland is not that small that the LHC's large accelerator touches Germany's border - it's still wayaway from Germany. :)

Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:01 pm
by jsmaje
greuti wrote:John, Switzerland is not that small that the LHC's large accelerator touches Germany's border - it's still wayaway from Germany. :)
:oops: Oops.
I'll have to sack my PA who writes all my scripts, though suspect it was simply over-enthusiasm about Switzerland's multi-lingual/cultural origins, i.e. mostly French & German (plus of course Italian & Romanche - correct me greuti if I'm wrong).

Meanwhile, though totally irrelevant to this forum, having visited last year, I can certainly recommend Geneva's clean and efficient integrated transport system (involving all buses, trams, trains & boats), not to mention the Old Town, UN Offices, and Red Cross/Crescent museum.
To my mind, any country that can boast all this deserves to be first to find the Higgs particle or whatever may turn up!

John, a dedicated Swissophile :)

PS: CERN provides regular guided tours of the facility at ground level, though now being in action, I believe it's unlikely that the general public will be allowed to see the underground LHC itself.

Posted: Fri Sep 19, 2008 3:05 pm
by greuti
Hi John,

Doesn't matter. That you've mentioned the fourth language of the country do you instantly rehabilitate :)
Be honest, I just had to search how it is called in English too. It is probably "Romansh".

Peter, who was never in Geneva so far.

Posted: Sat Sep 20, 2008 2:19 pm
by jsmaje
Another oops :oops::
This time it's the LHC itself, which has just had its own Little Bang, and may need to be shut down for 2 months. Well, no one said the path to truth would be an easy or quick one (even God apparently needed 6 days to get things sorted!)

Re Romansh (thanks for that greuti) I can recommend this wikipedia article about its probable Roman ('vulgar' Latin) origin, as does the otherwise geographically and historically distinct Romanian. I've always confused both of these with Romany/Romani (the European 'gypsy' language), but which apparently is entirely unrelated and of north Indian nomadic origin (the term 'gypsy' deriving from the European belief they came from Egypt).
What a wide and wonderful world we live in!


Inside the LHC

Posted: Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:28 pm
by fjgiie


Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2008 6:59 pm
by fjgiie

Posted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:50 am
by Cerusan
One more New Year's Day for ourselves. :D

Posted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:46 pm
by fjgiie
Not to worry... Cerusan

When you get those electrons and protons and fig newtons and gamma-gamis mixing
with them halogens a black hole is not as much worry as a stomach ache! . . . . . . . :shock:

. . . . . . . . . . . .Image

Posted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:23 am
by Nikita
I know, we'll celebrate 31 June!

Question about the LHC results

Posted: Sun Oct 05, 2008 7:16 pm
by fjgiie
  • If they don’t find the Higgs, are the physicists going to throw away those old books?


Posted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 3:11 pm
by tinaparr
I sure hope not, it'd be a waste of books.