Monday, September 08, 2008

Proton Beam at LHC

Supposedly, Sept. 10 is still the schedule for the first test of the LHC proton beam to make it all the way around the LHC ring. It will go counterclockwise first. The operators will have to adjust all those superconducting magnets to get the beam to go all the way around the huge ring in the exact intended location. After that is done, they will make the proton beam go clockwise, and adjust the SAME magnet (that has a rather interesting design to produce a different field geometry for the opposite beam).

Most people and the media thinks that this event is the "monumental" and important milestone for the LHC start-up. While they are certainly important, what will be even more important is what may happen the next day on Sept. 11 (a rather unfortunate date to pick), where they are scheduled to make the beam go back to going counterclockwise and see if the previous 2 magnet adjustments have changed the original beam path. Depending on how much off the beam is, this could take a while to get the exactly requirement alignment, and may require going back and forth between clockwise and counterclockwise beams.

In all of this, there's still no collision yet, which is right now, still scheduled for Oct. All of the above activities are the responsibility of a number of accelerator physicists who are in charge of the beam dynamics. So they and various magnet designers are the ones not getting enough sleep at the moment. :)

Edit: BTW, I forgot to mention that Fermilab will be hosting the LHC "Pajama Party" for this event on Sept. 10, starting at 1:30 AM (yes, AM, that is not a typo. It will be morning at CERN). You must register to attend it, though, and unfortunately, the registration is closed already.


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