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August 29, 2008

AntiChrist Begun 2008 | Blogged

Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

3. Atom-Smasher down for two months: CERN

The world's most powerful atom-smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), will be down for two months as a section will have to be repaired because of a fault, a spokesman for the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) has said.

Agence France-Presse – 9/20/2008 3:49 PM GMT | The world’s largest atom-smasher has been shut down for two months following a helium leak, just ten days after it was switched on amid great fanfare to probe the secrets of the universe.

“There has been an incident in a test. One section of the machine will have to be repaired,” James Gillies, a spokesman for the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), told AFP.

CERN said in a statement that a fault occurred on Friday afternoon, resulting in a “large helium leak into the tunnel.

“Preliminary investigations suggest that the most likely cause of the problem was a faulty electrical connection between two magnets, which probably melted at high current leading to mechanical failure,” it said.

There was no risk to people, added the centre, saying that a full probe was underway.

“There are people in the tunnel right now, we’ll be giving updates as soon as we can,” said Gillies.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was started on September 10, with physicists cheering the successful testing of a clockwise beam, comprising strings of protons, and then an anticlockwise beam in preparatory testing ahead of first collisions.

But the LHC had to be shut down a week later due to an electrical hitch that affected a cooling system for high-powered magnets designed to steer beams of particles around the LHC’s 27-kilometre (16.9-mile) circular tunnel.

The cooling system is important as the steering magnets in the LHC tunnel are chilled to as low as -271 degrees Celsius (-456.25 degrees Fahrenheit), which is close to absolute zero and colder than deep outer space.

At this extreme temperature, electrical currents overcome resistance, thus making it easier and cheaper to power electro-magnets.

The LHC was only turned back on again on Friday, but the latest setback has once again forced operations to halt.

As the sector where the fault occurred would have to be warmed up from its extreme temperature for repairs to take place, the LHC would now be halted for “a minimum of two months,” resulting in further delays to the first collisions.

The LHC took nearly 20 years to complete and at six billion Swiss francs (3.76 billion euros, 5.46 billion dollars) is one of the costliest and most complex scientific experiments ever attempted.

It aims to resolve some of the greatest questions surrounding fundamental matter, such as how particles acquire mass and how they were forged in the “Big Bang” that created the universe some 13.7 billion years ago.

Counter-rotating beams are whizzed around the tunnel and then are smashed together in four huge laboratories.

Over the 10-15 years in which the LHC will operate, masses of data will spew from these collisions and will be scrutinised by physicists around the world.

The Holy Grail will be finding a theorised component called the Higgs Boson, which would explain how particles acquire mass. Also dubbed the “God particle,” the Higgs is believed to be ubiquitous but has also been elusive until now.

2. Flawless start for world’s mightiest particle Collider

The magnet core of the world's largest superconducting solenoid magnet (CMS, Compact Muon Solenoid) near Geneva. Particle physicists were jubilant on Wednesday after the long-awaited startup of a mega-machine designed to expose secrets of the cosmos passed its first tests with flying colours.

Particle physicists were jubilant on Wednesday after the long-awaited startup of a mega-machine designed to expose secrets of the cosmos passed its first tests with flying colours.

Cheers , applause and the pop of a champagne cork — rather than the cataclysmic suck of a black hole, which doomsayers had feared — marked the breakthrough at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Robert Aymar, the organisation’s director general, hailed it as a “historic day” for CERN and mankind’s thirst for knowledge.

Humans have “a quest for (knowing) where they came from and where they should go, whether the Universe will end, and where the Universe will go in the future,” he said.

Just after 0730 GMT, a first proton beam was injected into the Large Hadron Collider (LHV), a massive project built 100 metres (325 feet) underground at CERN headquarters.

The mission aims to resolve some of the greatest enigmas in physics: whether a so-called “God particle” exists that would account for the nature of mass; an explanation for “dark matter” and “dark energy” that account for 96 percent of the cosmos; and whether other dimensions exist parallel to our own.

In a 27-kilometre (16.9-mile) circular tunnel on the Swiss-French border, parallel beams of protons will be accelerated to nearly the speed of light.

Superconducting magnets will then steer the counter-rotating beams so that strings of protons smash together in four huge laboratories, fleetingly replicating the conditions that prevailed at the “Big Bang” that created the Universe 13.7 billion years ago.

Arrays of detectors will trace the sub-atomic rubble spewed out from the collision, looking for signatures of novel particles.

CERN scientists have ruled out fears that the process could create a “black hole” whose super-gravity would swallow the Earth, or a theoretical particle called a strangelet that would turn the planet into goo.

Wednesday’s startup marked the start of a long and cautious commissioning process to check equipment and operational procedures before these collisions can get underway.

The first batch of protons was halted, sector by sector, to verify that monitoring systems and the steering magnets were working properly. Their speed was purposely slowed for the inspection process.

The clockwise beam completed this first test lap in under an hour, causing an eruption of joy and an outbreak of bubbly in the control room.

A test of the anticlockwise beam took place later and again the operation was problem-free.

“Technically, everything works the way it should work and the path ahead is very, very clear,” said Jos Engelen, the LHC’s chief scientific officer.

LHC Project Leader Lyn Evans, who has been working on the collider for 14 years, said he felt a wave of relief after the protons had completed their first lap so smoothly.

“It’s a machine of enormous complexity and things can go wrong at any time,” he said.

Messages of congratulations flooded in from CERN’s partners and rivals, including the legendary Fermilab particle physics lab near Chicago.

The LHC took nearly 20 years to complete and at six billion Swiss francs (3.76 billion euros, 5.46 billion dollars) is one of the costliest and most complex scientific experiments ever attempted.

When all is ready, the LHC will whizz the two beams around the tunnel at up to 11,000 laps per second before steering them into collisions into four chambers whose walls are swathed with detectors.

The first collisions are likely to start in several weeks, but only next year will the LHC be cranked up to its full capacity of 14 teraelectronvolts — a massive amount of energy that will briefly generate temperatures 100,000 times hotter than the Sun. It will be seven times the record held by Fermilab.

Over the 10-15 years in which will the LHC will operate, masses of data will spew from these collisions and will be scrutinised by physicists around the world.

“It’s about acquiring knowledge for humanity about the behaviour of fundamental matter,” physicist Daniel Denegri told AFP. “We expect to make discoveries that could be rather spectacular.”

“Basic knowledge is part of the heritage of humanity,” added researcher Daniel Froidevaux.

The Holy Grail will be finding a theorised component called the Higgs Boson, which would explain how particles acquire mass. Believed to be ubiquitous — yet also frustratingly elusive until now — the Higgs has been dubbed the “God particle.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose nation holds the European Union presidency, hailed Wednesday’s start-up test as “a very big success for Europe.”

“The spin-offs from this unprecedented scientific investment in the history of humanity are essential not only to deepen the intimate knowledge of the universe but also for direct applications in such varied areas as intensive calculations or even medicine,” he said in a statement.

Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

1. World’s mightiest Atom-Smasher starts Operations

European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) scientists work at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) control center, near Geneva in Switzerland. The LHC began operations on Wednesday in a mission to pierce the greatest secrets of the physical Universe, scientists said.
Agence France-Presse – 9/10/2008 9:05 AM GMT

Particle physicists fired up the world’s biggest atom-smasher on Wednesday in a mission to answer some of the most perplexing questions about the nature of the Universe.

Built in a tunnel 100 metres (325 feet) below ground in a complex straddling the French-Swiss border, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is designed to accelerate sub-atomic particles to nearly the speed of light and then smash them together.

The collisions will briefly stoke temperatures 100,000 times hotter than the Sun, fleetingly replicating conditions which prevailed in split-seconds after the “Big Bang” that created the Universe 13.7 billion years ago.

In this seething primordial soup, novel particles may lurk.

Discovering them could resolve mysteries clouding our understanding of how matter is constituted and came into being, scientists say.

“It’s about acquiring knowledge for humanity about the behaviour of fundamental matter,” physicist Daniel Denegri told AFP.

“We expect to make discoveries that could be rather spectacular.”

Shortly after 9:30 a.m. (0730 GMT), the first protons were injected into the 27-kilometre (16.9-mile) ring-shaped tunnel at the headquarters of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

It has required nearly two decades, six billion Swiss francs (3.76 billion euros, 5.46 billion dollars) and 5,000 scientists, engineers and technicians from nearly three dozen countries to bring the LHC to fruition.

Wednesday’s operation began a long and cautious commissioning process, testing equipment and procedures, before starting experiments a matter of weeks from now.

In the LHC control room, relieved scientists cheered and clapped when the first particles completed a maiden, clockwise lap around the ring. The protons’ progress had been slowed down to ensure that systems were working properly.

When all is ready, the LHC will whizz two parallel beams, one clockwise and the other anticlockwise, around the tunnel.

Superconducting magnets cooled close to absolute zero — the chill of deep space — will then steer the beams so that they converge inside four chambers whose walls are swathed with detectors.

“The way to think about it is like having cross-pointing machine-guns, firing bullets,” said Denegri. “Some of the bullets will miss each other and others will hit.”

When protons collide, subatomic wreckage from the smashup will fly into the detectors, leaving a calling-card trace of their identity.

Over the 10-15 years in which will the LHC will operate, masses of data will spew from these collisions and will be closely scrutinised by universities and laboratories around the world.

The Holy Grail will be finding a particle, called the Higgs Boson after British physicist Peter Higgs, who devised the theory of its existence in 1964.

The “Higgs” would explain how particles acquire mass, and some particles are more massive than others.

The idea is that these particles exist in a sort of invisible background field. Other particles passing through the Higgs field would pick up mass, like feathers passing through thin treacle.

Another big challenge will be testing the theory of supersymmetry, which postulates that the members of the known bestiary of sub-atomic particles have related, but more massive, counterparts.

Such particles could explain the unsettling discovery of recent years that visible matter only accounts for some four percent of the Universe. Enigmatic phenomena called dark matter and dark energy account for the rest.

Before the startup, Internet-driven rumours said the LHC would create black holes or a nasty hypothetical particle called a strangelet that would gobble up the planet. CERN commissioned a panel to verify its safety calculations and France also carried out its own assessment.

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04.09.2008 Start New Mapping

geoeye.jpgGoogle has agreed to license imagery for their mapping products from a satellite due to launch on September 4th. This new satellite can take detailed imagery for an area the size of New Mexico in one day. What does that mean? Well, you could get high resolution pan-sharpened imagery for the entire country in around 30 days. Impressive.

The level of detail will be approximately 50cm per pixel — that’s just under 20 inches. If you want to see what that looks like, take a look at this. Imagine having a Google Maps/Earth content that is this detailed, 100% complete and updated once a month — that’s powerful stuff.

“The GeoEye-1 satellite has the highest ground resolution color imagery available in the commercial marketplace and will produce high-quality imagery with a very accurate geolocation. It is our goal to display high-resolution imagery for as much of the world as possible, and GeoEye-1 will help further that goal.” — Kate Hurowitz (Google)

Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

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