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25 November 2009

Blast of collisions at CERN

It succeeded – finally. After 25 years of planning, development and colossal construction the dream has come true – the first collisions took place in the Large Hadron Collider, LHC at CERN in Switzerland. Danish researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute are participating in the experiments and are extremely excited.

Direct from CERN, Professor Jens Jørgen Gaardhøje gives an eye witness account:


Seen in the image is one of the first collisions
in the ALICE-detector. During the first half
an hour there were 200 collisions. The lines
radiating out from the centre show particles
passing through the inner layers of the
detector.

”A few seconds after 16.45 on Monday on November 23 the ALICE experiment registered the first collision between bundles of protons, which were travelling towards each other at a speed close to the speed of light. During the next half an hour an additional 200 collisions were registered. The ALICE control room was filled to the bursting point and the champagne corks were popping soon after. It was a historic event marking the beginning of a new era in physics with the potential for great discoveries ahead”, explains Jens Jørgen Gaardhøje, who leads the Danish part of the ALICE project and is a member of the experiment’s senior leadership.

Great start for the research of tomorrow
The Large Hadron Collider at CERN is the world’s largest accelerator with a length of 27 km and is also the world’s largest research facility. On Monday afternoon, the LHC established the first collisions between protons at 450 GeV.

”At 14.22 the first collisions were registered in the ATLAS experiment. It went as expected and it is fantastically good news for the research you are passionate about”, explains a hoarse Troels Petersen, who has only slept a few hours during the night in order to keep up with the events at CERN. He explains enthusiastically, that there are already useful results and the experiments at CERN will influence the next 10 years of research. 

The image shows a 3D representation of the first
proton-collision, as it was detected by the ATLAS
experiment. The particles, which were
reconstructed, can be used to determine the point
of collision. The yellow plates on the ends register
when there is a collision and send a signal to the
rest of the detector to store the relevant data,
which will then be analysed.

All four experiments measured collisions in their detectors and thereby demonstrated that they are ready for the research programme at higher energies in the coming months and years. It was a great start for the LHC and its research programme, everything went smoothly, and things look very positive for further research into the first moments of the moments, quark-gluon plasma, the hunt for the Higgs particle, and the cause of dark matter and etc.

Today, Tuesday, allows for the fine tuning of the detectors and after that they will immediately continue with increasing the intensity of the proton beams and will prepare to increase the power to beyond the nearest competitor’s (FERMILAB in the U.S.) maximum energy level. This is expected to happen as early as next week.

”The good start happened a week ahead of schedule and that suggests, that ’the future’ does not want to interfere with the LHC research programme”, says Jens Jørgen Gaardhøje about all of the talk there has been in the media about God’s interference in the research.