Collisions at LHC! Tevatron record to be broken soon?
Boffins tear up schedule in race for dimensional portal
Forging ahead much faster than had been expected, particle-smashing boffins at the Large Hadron Collider have now carried out actual collisions - blasting beams of protons into one another at a healthy 450 giga-electron-volts each for total whack of 900 GeV.
Since the mighty LHC was crippled last year in an unfortunate electro-burnout liquid helium superfluid explosion mishap, top boffins have toiled like gnomes in tunnels buried deep beneath the foundations of the Swiss alps to repair the subterranean machine. Late on Friday night their efforts bore fruit, as the first beams of hadrons circulated all the way round the colossal 27km magnetic vaccuum doughnut.
We here on the Reg particle-punisher desk relaxed a little at that point, as we had consulted this internal CERN document (pdf) - unearthed by keen amateur LHC-watcher Chris Stephens - which indicated no collisions until December 3.
Like the cynical media troublemakers we are, we had anticipated a leisurely ten days or so of pumping up public anticipation - and of course hysteria among the tinfoilclad community, many of whom are convinced that meddling LHC boffins will implode the planet in a horrendous artificial-black-hole blunder of some type, turn it into soup, or alternatively rip open a portal or gap in the very fabric of spacetime through which might come interdimensional invaders etc. All good clean fun.
But evidently the boffins at CERN, perhaps hoping to forestall the sort of attention/madness which built up last year for the first power-up - or more likely just itching to have a go with their kit - have torn up their initial plan. Twin beams have now been crossed, and collisions have been observed in the experiments - the huge underground instrument caverns which plot the sub-subatomic debris scattering in all directions when hadrons run into each other head-on at a gnat's whisker less than light speed. It is among such debris that boffins hope to spot the elusive Higgs Boson or "God particle", and so finally resolve the long-running boffinry deathmatch between Professors Higgs and Hawking.
Scientists at the LHC are naturally overjoyed at all this, and so might some of our other readers be too. Collisions have occurred, and as yet there is no sign of planetary implosion and/or soupening, nor yet any interdimensional portal invasion.