Large Hadron Collider aces pre-launch testing

What should be the world's most powerful particle accelerator to date is now clear for its 10 September switch-on

Pre-initiation testing of the Large Hadron Collider has now been completed, ahead of the particle accelerator's official launch on 10 September.

The second and final test of the Large Hadron Collider's (LHC's) beam synchronisation systems took place on Friday evening in a tunnel under the Franco-Swiss border, according to a Monday statement from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern). The successful test involved pushing "a few particles… down the transfer line from the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) accelerator to the LHC", then steering them "counterclockwise about 3km around the LHC", the statement said.

Synchronisation between the SPS and the LHC to within a fraction of a nanosecond is crucial to the LHC project, which will involve sending particle beams around the 27km-long circular tunnel at unprecedented energies, then smashing them into each other.

"Thanks to a fantastic team, both the clockwise and counterclockwise tests went without a hitch," said the LHC project leader, Lyn Evans. "We look forward to a resounding success when we make our first attempt to send a beam all the way around the LHC."

Cern's scientists hope that the LHC project will reveal the elusive 'Higgs boson', a hypothetical particle whose assumed existence underpins much of current physics theory. Other previously unobserved particle types may also make an appearance.

The first attempt to send a full beam around the LHC, at an energy of 0.45TeV (teraelectronvolts), will take place on 10 September. Cern hopes to get particle beams colliding at 5TeV by the end of the year.

All the technical details of the LHC's design and construction are available to read for free online, courtesy of the Journal of Instrumentation.


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