Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/18/lhc_portal_probe/

LHC starts beaming Saturday: Collisions Dec 3

Reg reader unlocks secret CERN web

By Lewis Page

Posted in Science, 18th November 2009 14:41 GMT

Exclusive As all the world knows, the Large Hadron Collider - the mightiest particle-punisher in the world and possible portal to other dimensions - is shortly to fire up again, following last year's catastrophic liquid helium superfluid explosion.

You can learn that much by following other media outlets like any ignorant drone. But you are a tech-savvy Register reader, which means that you can follow events at the LHC live as they happen on CERN's own web pages, which are mostly open for anyone to view - though rather hard to find.

We should emphasise that this is in no way due to any effort or goodness at Vulture Central. Rather it's the result of public-spirited efforts by Reg reader Chris Stephens. Just as amateur stargazers are usually the best source of information on top-secret spy satellites, enthusiastic LHC-watcher Chris is the man to go to for all the latest supercold superpowered superconductor supercollider news.

It was a tip-off from Chris, in fact, who had noticed climbing temperatures on part of the Collider's mighty magnetic ring, which enabled us to break the story of the baguette-bombing bird which temporarily scuttled the colossal machine two weeks back.

Inspired by having first caused a story to break on the Reg and then seeing it go global as it was shamelessly lifted without attribution by mainstream media outlets worldwide, Chris has now created an "unofficial" LHC portal with links to all the various fascinating CERN webpages, which are at the moment so little known.

In a superb twist, Chris tells us that the main users of the LHC Portal so far are in fact CERN personnel, who evidently find it the handiest way of navigating around their own websites. The portal is now linked to from at least one of CERN's internal sites.

CERN documents reveal First Beam and First Collision dates

Chris has made a more than reasonable effort to check with the various CERN owners of the pages he links to that they're happy for everyone to pile in - we've seen the correspondence. The only ones who weren't terribly chuffed were the ones at the CMS experiment, who wrote:

Whilst you are right that nothing you link to is classed by CERN IT as "private" or "security risk", I don't see any reason really to have more than a link to the CMS Public web site from your portal.

Subsequently the "CMS TV" links from Chris' Portal were secured, which is a shame because they looked like fun. But as of press time everything else is still good to go.

Chris' researches have already told us that the current plan is for the initial full beam of the new LHC era to be fired up by the first shift (midnight to 0800) on Saturday. CERN documents he has unearthed and passed to us go on to say that "over the weekend we would hope to injection, circulate and capture both beams working with one beam and then the other".

That's already a lot more than the CERN PRs have released to the ordinary rubbish media. Better still, the internal CERN plan specifies that the first actual collisions - the real start-up, if you like - are set for December 3, at a relatively gentle 450 giga-electron-volts.

The web having been invented at CERN, this all seems hugely appropriate to us.

But what does Chris personally hope to get out of all this, one might ask? Well, in his own words:

This will provide me many man hours of entertainment watching the Tin Foil Hatters on the forum decry the end of the world.

Plus it's very cool that I can contribute to everybody being able to watch the AWESOME science going on at CERN.

We couldn't agree more. ®