Liveblogging the LHC startup at the Fermilab ROC



Correction: There weren't any "glitches with the HD video and audio links between Fermilab and CERN". What I had taken as such was that a satellite feed started up later than expected and initially lacked audio, but that was resolved quickly. The terrestrial HD links between CERN and FNAL were stable. The author of this page regrets the error. He had not gotten enough sleep and was too late to get any of the Mountain Dew™ generously and humorously provided by Tim White and Ron Ustach of Apple Computer™. Alas, he also missed the opportunity to get a picture of the caffeine delivery vehicle -- six 36-can cases shrinkwrapped on a handtruck.

Despite a few short-lived glitches with the cryogenic cooling, the startup of the Large Hadron Collider was a big success. Protons were coaxed into running all the way around the 17-mile LHC accelerator ring at 3:25 AM CDT by my watch. The quick work getting the beam focused was a monumental achievement, a testament to the excellent engineering of the machine.

The early hour and consequent lack of sleep was no drain on the enthusiasm of the large crowd in attendance. The Remote Operations Center (ROC) at Fermilab has been a popular attraction since it was unveiled last year, but I've never before seen so large a crowd here in the wee hours.

Not satisfied with handily accomplishing the day's design goal, the crew in Geneva got the counter-rotating beam going by 9:00 AM Fermi time (possibly well before that). Last I heard, the plan was to attempt collisions in about a week, but at the 450 GeV injection level, roughly half of the Tevatron energy. There won't be many collisions at that energy because there won't be any effective stochastic cooling (getting the protons traveling in a tight bunch) until the big ring is actually accelerating.

Best overheard comment in the ROC -- Of course he doesn't have a cellphone. He's Scottish.


10-Sep-2008 9:06 CDT

Amazingly, they've already got counter-rotating beams at the injection energy of 450 GeV.

10-Sep-2008 6:23 CDT

Life returns to more-or-less normal in the ROC as the scientists and engineers at CERN attempt to get a counter-rotating beam going.

10-Sep-2008 6:22 CDT

Hi-Def videoconferencing with the other labs.

10-Sep-2008 6:11 CDT

The sun also rises. Over Chicago.

In the distance are the shadows of some of the tall buildings -- The Hancock Building, Amoco Building, and Sears Tower partially obscured by Helmut Jahn's Oakbrook Terrace Tower.


10-Sep-2008 4:43 CDT

One last round of applause.

10-Sep-2008 4:38 CDT

Some congratulatory comments from Jim Reidy of the National Science Foundation and Harry Weerts of Argonne (late of Fermilab), and toasts.

10-Sep-2008 3:58 CDT

The world hasn't collapsed into a singularity yet. So let's eat.

10-Sep-2008 3:23 CDT

Happiness all around.

10-Sep-2008 3:25 CDT

We have the first circulation of the Beam! It's only one direction, so there's nothing to collide with, but today's goal has been met.

10-Sep-2008 04:06 CDT

Dennis Overbye of the NY Times was here, along with many members of the local news outfits.

10-Sep-2008 3:36 CDT

After a flurry of picture-taking, it's time to make a blog.

10-Sep-2008 2:06 CDT

Intense concentration as last minute snags are worked on.

10-Sep-2008 2:04 CDT

Yes, there were pajamas.

10-Sep-2008 01:58 CDT

Some of the 400-500 people await the last few seconds of the countdown. Not to circulating beam, alas, but to present a video on the accelerator.

10-Sep-2008 01:54 CDT

The countdown to first beam. Actually, the beam was to be delayed at least 30 minutes after that, due to cryo problems.

10-Sep-2008 01:41 CDT

The presentation stage in front of the ROC. The screen has one of the live feeds from CERN.

10-Sep-2008 0:00 CDT

Major media outlets noticed!



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The opinions expressed here are my own, and not those of the US Department Of Energy, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the internets, or anyone else, living or fictional.