Apologies for my lack of quantum diatribe in recent weeks. Thus far 2010 has been a hive of activity at CERN with first papers coming out from the big experiments already, or imminently, and the results of the Chamonix workshop. This is the workshop where the very important people from CERN go and hang out in Chamonix for a week and decide on the direction of the lab, returning to CERN after what seems like a pretty long process of talks and discussion (with I’m sure a bit of relaxing thrown in for good measure), to then tell the rest of us what’s going on. There might be a bit more to it than that, but since it isn’t by open invitation most of the padawan learners and younglings are left waiting for the decision of the Jedi council. Joking aside, this is an important process, since it gives the experts from the detector and machine side time to
digest each others comments and provide feedback while the lab management can take on board all that is said and formulate a plan that works within budgetary constraints etc.
This year we received the news that the LHC will run for the 2010-2011 with 3.5+3.5TeV beams, so a center-of-mass energy of 7TeV, half of the design specification of LHC. This number is a trade-off. The machine can hopefully operate safely at this energy for the next two years and provide the experiments with some physics. There was the discussion of going up to 10TeV CM energy, but there are risks involved, and (quite rightly) the LHC operators felt it most prudent to get some operational experience at a point they felt most safe at, and where, the experiments will get some real data to play with, and a sample of 1fb-1 at 7TeV should allow us to have some fun for a couple of years.
The lower energy doesn’t make a huge difference to LHCb, ALICE will still get their ions, and ATLAS and CMS will still be able to probe a high-energy regime in search of new physics, or in the earliest papers, just show how awesomely timed in and aligned the detectors are.
From I personal perspective this is a very positive and upbeat response to the will-they, won’t-they situation of which energies we’ll run at, and for how long we will be running. This is best exemplified by the wotk being done on 10TeV
CM energy Monte Carlo for physics studies at an operating energy we may well never run at.
But for now, we are here in early March, spring is in the air, and there’s beam back in the machine. Things are looking rosy.