LHC produces first
DR EMILY BALDWIN
Posted: December 4, 2009
After 20 years in the making, and a false start last year, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is finally producing physics results.
The LHC works by accelerating beams of particles around a 27 kilometre underground track; dedicated instruments along the track look out for the products of these particle collisions. The first results were submitted by the ALICE instrument team just six days after the first collisions were made, and were accepted for publication by the European Journal of Physics on 1 December.The first proton collisions as detected by ALICE.
“Although we may have to wait a while for the results from high energy collisions, getting results out this early from a new detector is a major achievement,” says UK spokesman for the ALICE collaboration David Evans. “It also shows just how well the detector and the Birmingham-built electronics work.”
The Birmingham-based team designed and built the ALICE trigger electronics, which instructs the detector to record data after a collision, making decisions in less than a tenth of a millionth of a second.
The first collisions were made on 23 November at relatively low energies; the giant experiment will slowly be ramped up to operate with high energy collisions in the new year. The LHC is set to reveal new secrets about the nature of matter and the early Universe. ALICE's role is to study ultra-high energy proton-proton and lead-lead interactions. It will be used to explore the first instants of the Universe a few microseconds after the big bang, when matter was in its primordial state.
“The LHC is now fully on track and gearing up to some unique and possibly world changing science,” says Science and Technology Facilities Council CEO Keith Mason. “We’re very proud of the huge contribution of our skilled scientists here in the UK.”
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