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Monica Dunford | USLHC | USA

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First Beam, Last Post


The relief is indescribable. I must have woken up one million times last night thinking, ‘Did we remember…’, ‘What about….’, ‘Did we do….’, ‘Let’s not forget….’.

All Tile experts converged to the control room around 7am, even though beam was not expect until 9:30am. The wait wasn’t so bad until about 9:15 when we had to stop the run and start afresh. Normally to stop the run and restart completely takes about 30 minutes. But every one was working at super human speeds, so we had the run going again at 9:29. At this point, I was absolutely pacing in the control room. I couldn’t hold still for a second.

The beam came to ATLAS (the last on the ring) around 10:20am. The first test they did was to smash the beam into one of the collimator. What we would expect to see in ATLAS is millions of muons flying into the detector. Which is exactly what we saw! The explanation of this picture isn’t important. What is important is that you can see lots and lots of stuff. Tons and tons of muons.

First beam

And now I can relax. Tile. After so much effort from so many people. It works. Just like we knew that it would. But still it is nice to actually see it working. And we can all take a deep breath of relief.

But check out google’s main page today! Here is a snapshot. Not every day your work gets to be on google!

Google atlas

On another note, this will also be my last posting. It has been a very fun year being able to describe my life in the control room and definitely being able to describe this day. In my place, my super-cool friend Kathy Copic (who is also a great cook) is now joining the USLHC blogging team, so keep an eye out for her posts.

And what about Tile? Where will we be? Well in usual Tile fashion we will be barbecuing. And the theme for tonight? ‘The Brazilians are back BBQ’! We are celebrating the return of many of our Brazilian colleagues.

Oh and there is beam. We’ll toast to that too!


12 Responses to “First Beam, Last Post”

  1. Beovulf says:

    When you launch LHC on 14 TeV – I`m gonna be a headcrab! :)

  2. Amid death threats, Large Hadron Collider is “turning on” as we speak…

    This is a very complicated machine, so it is very hard to say exactly when it “turn on.” Some would say that the ‘start’ is when the first (of two) energy beams starts running around the track like crazed Einsteinian greyhounds, others would say th…

  3. [...] Waiting By admin at 8:36 am The Large Hadron Collider has been on for nearly 8 hours and the world hasn’t ended yet. Could the doomsayers and [...]

  4. [...] news outlets are incorrectly reporting that the Earth was not destroyed today as a result of the Large Hadron Collider being turned on.  EGI News has leaned in fact that the Earth was destroyed earlier today when a [...]

  5. Congrats! I can’t wait until the the first real data from a “smash” occurs. Higgs here we come! Maybe you can post links to where you think the best info will be coming from since you will not be able to post? Best luck again.



  6. arobic says:

    Very sorry to read that you will not blog here anymore. Even as a member of this collaboration (and also a enthousiast attendee of the ACR), I really liked your posts. They were clear and explanatory for the layman and yet interesting and colorful for the more experienced reader in the subject. Hope you will keep the blogging habit somewhere else at some other point in time. Happy data taking!

  7. iponey says:

    It will be a good and beneficial activity for science and the entire human being. Although there’re so many rumors of threatening our living land and even the whole universe.

    No body knows what exactly happened to our earth around billions years ago,and no body knows what fatal disater has been brought for dinosaurs and other creatures which has ruled the world at then. Certainly, from this experiment,we could not get it’s answer completely but we can tell something real and much more similar about that.At least much better and clearer than our guess and imagination.

    Nothing we can know without the endeavour of proper trying. Good luck for this experiment and god bless the entire human being!


  8. Jacques says:


    Consulting your blog site every week to discover the new story you had delicately chiselled had become one of my little recurrent pleasures, as you’ve always known how to present high energy physics and your activities at CERN in a way fully understandable to the layman, making me eager to learn more.

    So I can only regret this is your last post. This is also my last opportunity to teach you a french word or expression at the occasion of my comments. My contribution today is: “Ce qui se conçoit bien s’énonce clairement, et les mots pour le dire arrivent aisément”. May this serve as a tribute to your written communication skills.

    I understand however you are re-focusing on verbal and multi-media communication at a much wider scale. May you reserve some time to your old friends (particularly the older of them), continuing to entertain them with the beauties of the physics last frontier.

    Take care of yourself … and of your family!


  9. Michael says:

    Hi Monica

    I have a few questions. Is the proton beam up to full energy when it is circulating? You don’t mention where the collimator is in relation to ATLAS. Is it inside the detector? I gather that the accelerator operators have been moving the collision point into each detector as testing procedes. Is that the case? How long have the RF system operators been running power into the acceleration cavities before they actually introduced the proton beam? From my experience with high vacuum systems, each step up the operation schedule releases more adsorbed gas that has to be cleared by the vacuum pumps. How long will it be till the beam path is down to useable vacuum for steady proton orbits of the machine? Will the operators start the antiproton beam next?

    Lots of questions. Hoping for more information.

  10. Peter says:

    Monica, your blog was not for people like me, we work together. But I read it sometimes, and as this is your last posting I want to tell you that I found your blog simply great. Thanks for sharing so well with all the fantastic journey to discover the beauty of Nature!

  11. Brent says:

    Been pretty quiet for over a year….you kids get eaten up by a black hole?????

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