Well, today’s the day! The LHC people have decided, along with all the experimenters, that it’s time to collide some protons at 7 TeV. Actually, the hoopla was originally scheduled to start this morning at 09h00 (CERN time). That plan was amended several times, so that physicists I talked to all had different ideas of the actual start time for colliding the beams (I heard 03h00 at some point). The initial attempts this morning to ramp the beam have both failed due to unforeseen errors in the quench protection system (QPS) and some other electronics, but they’re now saying they expect beam (and collisions!) to be ready around noon or 13h00. So, that means that our early risers in the US might be privy to all the good shit.
For your viewing pleasure, we’ve compiled a list of links to various webcasts broadcasting the day’s activities:
- LHC First Physics Webcast (be sure to click around to the various webcams, at the bottom of the page)
- Our beloved OP Vistars (Page1 is often the most informative)
- CMS cameras: One Two Three
- ATLAS public page, home to a nice feed and some pretty pictures
- ATLAS event displays
- A pretty informative CERN Twitter feed
- The LHC Announcer (this dude talks to you about the LHC activities)
So, click away. We’ll try to keep you updated, maybe copying some of the pretty photos of the day here for you to see. Let us know if you find other interesting webcasts to link here, either by commenting or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: We have collisions! At 13h22, the LHC people declared “STABLE BEAMS,” and we’ve been seeing 7 TeV collisions ever since. The press release is here, and the champagne is everywhere.
I present to you “the most inane conversation ever captured on camera,” all thanks to CERN. I’ll start the video at 5:36 for some setup, but the really relevant bit is at 7:26, a transcript of which follows,
Fearne: What’d you want to talk about. We can talk about anything.
Peaches: Ummm, the Large Hadron Collider.
Fearne: The what?
Peaches: You know they have made this thing called the Large Hadron Collider. It’s in Texas or something, where they are trying to create a black hole in space.
Fearne: Right, you want to talk about space.
Fearne: Go for it.
Peaches: Well, I’ve always been interested in Quantum physics, and about theories of, you know, how we came to be and why… Um, which is I guess how I got involved in spirituality and stuff and that way and the religious path I choose to go down and stuff.
Fearne: Which is what?
Peaches: I don’t want to talk about it.
[later] I am a scientologist, I’ve been a scientologist for a while now.
[Thanks to Reddit]
About a week ago, the LHC was preparing itself for its inaugural 2010 current ramp to values consistent with 3.5 TeV energy proton beams. While this was simply an opening act for the feature presentation (actual 3.5 TeV + 3.5 TeV collisions) next week, it certainly was an exciting and optimistic event celebrated widely at CERN and around the world. Record energies were reached in the field of particle acceleration, and the timing was perfect considering the growing awareness of the 2010-2011 LHC physics programme.
One media outlet that decided to express its enthusiasm for the huge success of the LHC’s initial foray into the high energy realm was the British online newspaper The Telegraph. Here is the article they published the day after the successful 3.5 TeV commissioning; really, things are pretty tame in this write-up — catchy headline, video of cute physicists, and lots of fervent anticipation for next week’s collision extravaganza. However, when this article first appeared on the website of The Telegraph, their elation with the world record breaking energy ramp-up was much more apparent:
If that didn’t strike you as odd, have a look at that headline one more time.
Actually, this is quite a natural joke to be made, if you think about it. I was surprised to find that, while ‘large hadron collider’ yields around 900k Google hits, ‘large hardon collider’ only finds 63.4k! I can only hope that our fellow internet comrades will up the efforts to capitalize on this goldmine. Sexual innuendos mix quite well with physics jargon. How do you think the term hadron was derived in the first place? I feel like we’re not far from hearing the phrases ‘beam dump’ and ‘that’s what she said’ used together quite regularly.
On the other hand, the top hit of that Google search surely sets the bar pretty high: http://largehardoncollider.com/
A fascinating aspect of writing this blog has been to sift through our web logs and see how readers find us. It shows us which topics are relevant to today’s internet. It also disturbs us to discover how twisted your minds are.
Firstly and rightfully, the most commonly used search term is…
- op vistars
Apparently we’re not the only ones who are baffled by the cryptic OP Vistars page. Next we present some ROOT-related searches, not all of which are complimentary:
- fuck you root cern
- root ugly plots
- root cern ugly
- cern root evil
- root cern sucks
- root cern design ugly
- you are the roots of all my evils
- root of all evil cern
- root of all my frustrations
- blinding data cern root
The following searches give us insight as to how the general public views CERN:
- cern and time rifts
- cern to open dimensional rift
- cern broke nov 2009
- cern diamonds
- cern dog
- cern monorail
- plumbing at cern
- cern bufet
- cern swirls
- working at cern boring
Whatever CERN may be, it sure as hell isn’t “boring” and I am disgusted that anyone would type this into Google, and that Google would lead them here. Next, the obligatory potty-related searches:
- cern swiss urine
- lavabo love
- urine and hand washing
- liquid drip when toilet
- hand washing proper sign with foot pedal type
I would really like to know what these people were looking for. On second thought, I really don’t want to know. Here are a few more miscellaneous gems:
- motombo love
- shitty geneva studio
- how i did not find love
- throbbing eyeball
- what is love half life
- porn love.org
I am completely unable to explain or categorize this one:
- you plote
And all you faithful Spanish readers out there, we love you! if we ever translate CERN Love into other languages, Spanish will be the first:
- blog del cern en español
Congratulations CERN media relations, someone in Spain is clearly drinking your Kool-Aid (or Flavor Aid, it seems history is unclear).
Remember that smutty detector porn that CERN started feeding the media a few years back? The stuff where our super-conducting toroids are laid bare, nothing left to your nerdy imagination. How can you not forget?
Here, let me introduce you to an old friend, it may have a temporary word with your techno-thalamus,
This image can be found in the ATLAS barrel magnet gallery as well as in every media packet ever distributed by CERN. If you are a heavy pop-sci consumer you senses are probably already deadened to it. (Do you remember your mom warning you about this stuff back when you were 13? She should have.) Well, if you browsed the magnet gallery just a little bit too long then you might be struck by a jarring final image like this
This is from what seems have been a very short lived production of Hector Berlioz’s Les Troyens at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia, Spain. It’s the classic legend of Troy and Carthage in the form of opera, but this very contemporary production seems to have been ripped from the science and technology section of your local paper by the same people who brought you Battlefield Earth. According to one review the theater company directing the production “was received with mixed applause and boos.” After watching the following montage of the production–where it seems bits of every sci-fi drama ever produced was collided at near the speed of light, irradiating the performers, and transporting them back to college in which everyone is issued a MacBook–I think I would be applauding and booing at the same time, both loudly. The ATLAS toroid scene is at 1:09,
[By the way, if you want to learn more about this theater company, La Fura dels Baus, and you decide to visit their web site at www.lafura.com, you might take into consideration the fact that you will be treated to immediate full screen video. If you are lucky (or unlucky, depending on your setting and sensibilities) the random clip will include nudity or even simulated sex. Good times.]
Correction: as the first comment points out, I originally put “Palau de les Arts” where I meant “La Fura dels Baus” in the last paragraph.
In my last post there was much talk of monorails, puppies, and Flashforward, which is a book that came out in 1999. So why am I suddenly down with 1999? It’s all thanks to ABC Studios’ desperate need to spackle some twisted-timeline programming into the gaping hole that will be left when their mega-hit Lost completes its final season this year. Their solution is a FlashForward for TV, loosely based on the novel. The premise that both the book and TV show share is that for some reason every human on Earth passes out for two minutes and during that time sees their life at a specific date in the future. In the book it is 21 years in the future, in the TV show it is 6 months in the future (set in the present time, the show chooses the date they plan for the season finale).
Actually other than the basic premise just described there seem to be few similarities. The book takes place around CERN, and the LHC turn-on is the likely culprit. The TV show, on the other hand, is set in Los Angles with some FBI agents that don’t have a clue about the cause of the flashforward and presumably at least the entire season will be devoted to piecing together the clues.
Technically all this information may constitute a spoiler, at least according to this Bad Astronomy post. I assume what they are referring to is the fact that the LHC may turn out to be the culprit in the TV version. Of course I didn’t go to any trouble to warn you about spoilers because that is just absurd. The connection to CERN in the book is pretty damn easy to run across (try the third line of Google’s “flashforward“), and there is no reason they couldn’t come up with a different explanation, the surprise of which wasn’t recorded in great detail 10 years ago. So, I’m betting the LHC won’t be up for an Emmy next year, but it wouldn’t hurt for those of you around CERN to keep your eyes open for film crews.
Time magazine has a video interview with Robert Sawyer about his book, the TV show, and CERN (it’s embeded in that “spoiling” Discovery Mag post and also below). After speaking about the book and CERN, the issue of what might be revealed in the TV show is brought up, and of course Sawyer declines to comment.
Also, if you crave even more, CERN has some video interviews with Robert Sawyer and John Ellis about Flashforward.
FlashForward is on a mid-season break right now, but it will be back in March and for now you can watch the 10 already broadcast episodes on Hulu. (Sadly, Hulu doesn’t work outside the US. Those at CERN or generally engaged in unAmerican living: Tekzilla explains how to use an open proxy. In the Tekzilla video they use proxy-list.org which has given me useful proxies, though it can take a few tries and, as they say on Tekzilla, for security reason you definitely shouldn’t use these for anything but watching videos.)
Also, for even more physics going awry you should definitely check out the short film “Rift” (found via Discovery News). Its hard to imagine this wasn’t inspired by the LHC considering it was made last year, if you watch the spinning atom-ish orbs during the presentation you will note that RHIC gets the blame. Also note that “Rift” has the best opening line in cinema, “Morning Mr. Scientist, I made blueberry pancakes!” Have I ever gotten that from my wife? I think not. Mostly it is just “Hey Mr. Lazy, I don’t care if you were up all night tending your batch jobs, get up and make me some cream of wheat!”
If you continue “reading” you can enjoy both the first episode of FlashForward and Rift embedded below.