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Science

CERN, LHC Sets New Luminosity World Record 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the celebrate-by-destroying-a-universe dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Since last night, the Large Hadron Collider is officially the most powerful accelerator in the world. While a record energy level had been reached last year, the new luminosity level, surpassing Fermilab's capabilities, is a new achievement. 'Higher intensity means more data, and more data means greater discovery potential,' as CERN Director General Rolf Heuer says."
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CERN, LHC Sets New Luminosity World Record

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  • by biek (1946790) on Friday April 22, 2011 @09:33AM (#35906368)
    That's what the other particle is for.
  • Re:Toy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 22, 2011 @09:58AM (#35906622)

    1) "WTF are these guys doing with this thing?"

    They're attempting to probe the world of particle physics at energies we've not been able to previously. Particle physics is energy-dependent. The higher the energy you pump into it, the more you'll be able to learn -- chiefly because there are very nearly certainly particles with high masses, and from the only equation anyone seems to know (E=mc^2) a high mass is a very high energy. To create these particles and study them we have to push to such extreme energies. Without it we've no way of knowing even if the standard model of particle physics is right (hopefully it's not), let alone whether anything like supersymmetry exists (hopefully not), or whether it's something totally unexpected (hopefully).

    2) "They use it like a toy."

    Knowing quite a few people who are working with ATLAS I can assure you that using it as a toy is the last thing they're doing. This is very, very serious. It's very big money that's gone into it, and with that comes a massive sense of responsibility -- and accountability to the people who funded it, which would be the public.

    3) "Nothing of value has come of it that I've read about. I know research takes time, but they're just data collecting."

    You seem to be under the impression that not much data is needed. Unfortunately the decay channels into the new particles the LHC is looking for are pretty rare, so an enormous amount of data must be generated to beat down statistical noise and actually see those decays. If it helps, the LHC also has some extremely sophisticated filters pre-selecting the most interesting data that comes pouring off the detectors. Without it the hard drives would be swamped and filled within a day or so. This is very serious business and an enormous amount of work has gone into it. Patience is absolutely necessary with this. The follow-on accelerator (if there ever is one) will need even more patience. Also, there are currently internal hints and rumours -- and that's all it is -- that a weak signal at 115GeV has been detected. That's right on a predicted mass for the Higg's... but unfortunately the decay to photons is extraordinarily strong compared to expectation. This is only about 3 sigma at the minute so we shouldn't take much from it, but if it's confirmed (which will need more data) then it immediately goes against the standard model. If it's a Higg's, the decay is excruciatingly strong and will not only rule out the standard model but also the minimally supersymmetric standard model, although other supersymmetric models can account for it if they're really, really contrived -- ultimately this means that the whole of high-energy particle physics would be in peril. If it's *not* a Higg's then it breaks a lot of things and particularly the standard model, although supersymmetric models might have a better ride. Or, of course, it could be statistical noise or a poor analysis -- nothing's been made properly public about it and it's not even coming from ATLAS itself but from a small group within ATLAS (which is a huge collaboration). Regardless, to test this we need data. What did you think LHC would do, smash some particles together and leave some tracks in a bubble chamber for everyone to point at and shout "THAT'S A HIGGS!"? Of course they're "just" data collecting. What else are they meant to do?

    4) "What distinguishes this collider from any other collider in the world?"

    Seriously? Have you been living under a rock? *It runs at a much higher energy*. That's what distinguishes the LHC from the Tevatron, which is its nearest rival. Particle physics is all about reaching high energies. To use a tired and shitty old car analogy, what you've just said is "What distinguishes a Formula 1 car from my clapped out old Model T Ford?"

    5) "What do they get from building this machine that they wouldn't from another one?"

    What? You're basically suggesting that... they build another machine? What would be the point in that? You'd just end up with... the LHC, somewhere other than C

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