Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Update: Big Collider Passes First Test

Scientists perform the LHC switch-on phase early today at the CERN control center.

Scientists early Wednesday successfully sent the first particle beams around the Large Hadron Collider’s 17-mile underground chamber, constituting their first major step toward replicating “Big Bang” conditions.

Groups of scientists from around the world broke into applause when the telltale blips of success appeared on computer screens at CERN’s Geneva control center. The collider cost about $8 billion and is lauded as the most complex machine humans have built. Its purpose is to help physicists gain a better understanding of the origins of the universe.

Critics have voiced fears that the collider could create black holes capable of sucking in the entire Earth.

“The worries that scientists had today were nothing to do with being swallowed up by black holes and everything to do with technical hitches or electronic failure,” said physicist Jim al-Khalili at the University of Surrey. “Now after a collective sigh of relief, the real fun starts. No matter what we find, we will be unlocking the secrets of the universe.”

Click here for the complete Reuters article.
Click here for the New York Times articles and a video.


ludmil said...

Tne Big Cillider and Texas connection A few months ago we did antique show in Waxahachie-Ellis county Texas.This small town has a great court house maybe some of you have seen in many movies"Places in the heart"/Sally Field,John Mlkovitch/"Tender mercies"/Robert Duval/and the long running saga of Chuck Noris"Walker-Texas ranger".Besides interesting victorian archtectures this small town is known with the site of "Famous SSC/superconductor supercollider/I was intrigued and talked with manynlocal people and did some research.I was fascinated that this monumental project was canseled in 1993 after investing over /take a deep breath/ 2 BILION!!!Choosing the site for such an enourmus facility was a country-wide effort involving geo and econo studies in 43 states.Though the process was drawn-out political affair,the final chice seems a natural one after all,everything is BIGGER IN TEXAS .The main accelerator ring would be bored through the bedrock 200 feet beneath Waxahachie Texas.Construction began in 1991 and by 1993 had dug over 30 km. of tunnels.In order to bore through the sandstone and limestone beneath Waxahachie a 15 foot diameter tuneling machine was created that literaly chewed through the bedrock.By 1993 the finished cost was estimate $8,25 billion,about the same as the projected cost of International space station.Facing bloating price tag on a program associated with his predecessor President Clinton was never fond of the SSC.Without a presidential champion the deficit -weary Congress cut fundings for the SSC entirely and chose to abandon the $2bilion that had already been spent.Today the future of the SSC project contnues to cast a long shadow on the physics comunity.Had it been fully funded it would have begun experiments by the late 1990 and prodused results around the turn of the millenium.The capabilities it would have afforded scientist are still umatched even by the Large Hadron Collider at Cern in Switzerland.Meanwhile the needs of high energy physicists have only grown .The latest theories including string theory,require accelerator energies greater than even the SSC coul have produced in order to test their predictions.The one piece of the SSC program that could not be sold or auctioned may prove to be the silver lining in this story.After all,the Earth changes slowly-far more slowly than the whims of goverment funded science.Should congress and the President ever decide to revive the SSC, the tunnels beneath Waxahachie will be waiting.Finishing this comment i would like to say that would be great if today instead Switzerland the site of the collider was USA. P.S.One more piece of movie trivia.I was told that the big belgian action actor-director Jean van damme shot his movie "Universal soldier" at the site of the SSC Waxahachie /indian word for buffalo creek/

Gregory LeFever said...

Thanks once more for your insights, Ludmil. The Texas connection is very unusual and I was not aware of much of it. Thanks for the connected movie trivia as well.

I'm very impressed with how well your writing in English is coming along!