LHC boffins crank beams to 3.5 TeV redline

'Dump cores' catch and stop moving aircraft carriers

Need to catch and stop a moving aircraft carrier made of lightspeed protons? Get yourself a Dump Core

Once the beams are up, that energy has to go somewhere in the end: if a single magnet were to fail, for instance, a terrific blast of energy would leave the Collider's ring at that point with consequences much the same as if HMS Invincible had suddenly popped out of nowhere and rammed the tunnel.

Thus it is that the LHC is equipped with specially constructed "beam dump" caverns a little way off the main circuit, containing huge bus-sized "dump cores" made of graphite, cased in heavy steel, water cooled and then further wrapped in 750 tonnes of concrete shielding. If a magnet mishap looks to be brewing - or if, as in last night's case, beams simply need to be got rid of safely - the screaming 27km loop of lightspeed particles is diverted into one of these.

"Beams dumped properly", control-room boffins noted laconically at a briefing this morning - indicating that the subterranean graphite safety nets had managed to catch and stop the notional aircraft carriers without ripping free of their moorings.

Strictly speaking, as keen amateur LHC-watcher Chris Stephens noted, the dumps were technically 3.5 TeV collisions, so the LHC has also broken collision-energy records last night - albeit not inside a detector instrument, so no scientific benefit resulted.

Furthermore, following last year's record-breaking 1.18 TeV beams the first 2.36 TeV collisions occured within days. Thus we might well expect to see some truly awesome, unprecedentedly matter-wracking 7 TeV proton pileups in the near future. CERN PRs are planning a big mainstream press splash at the end of the month, but we're hoping that the frontline boffins (covered every step of the way by us here at the Reg, and even more closely by the fan club at the LHC Portal) will beat the press office to the punch as they have so many times before. ®

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