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LHC Win: Beaming smiles all round

Just back from a Science & Technology Facilities Council event in Westminster to observe, via video-link, the first beam going round the Large Hadron Collider.As you by now surely know, this milestone was passed successfully, and very quickly.
Written by David Meyer, Contributor on

Just back from a Science & Technology Facilities Council event in Westminster to observe, via video-link, the first beam going round the Large Hadron Collider.

As you by now surely know, this milestone was passed successfully, and very quickly. By quickly, I mean in under an hour. When the LHC is going full steam, there will be 40m collisions of particles every second, so an hour may seem a long time - but remember this was the very first time the beam made it fully round the circuit, and its progress was relatively painstaking.

Going through about eight stages, the particles were periodically stopped at strategic points to make sure the beam was not oscillating. Where it was, corrections were made by refocussing the beam, and it was allowed to continue. Although they had so much invested in its success, everyone involved was stunned that the LHC - the world's largest machine, mind you - was working so perfectly, so quickly.

I'll be bunging up a photo gallery shortly, with pictures of and quotes from some of the key UK scientists who were present at today's event. Suffice to say, everyone was happy. Deliriously so.

Now let's hope the beam going in the opposite direction - also to be tested today, with luck - goes as well.

Today wasn't a day for new science, as such. But what it did demonstrate was the remarkable engineering that went into the LHC, and the fact that the whole damn thing works. Well done, mankind and science.

UPDATE: That photo gallery is now up, and here's a roundup of our LHC coverage up til now.

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