The TeVatron conspiracy theorists thought it may have been a hoax to blind-side their own running aspirations, but today CERN announces that the LHC will continue apace into 2012. The run in 2011 will soon be upon us and this ambitious plan to continue well into 2012 shows great faith in the LHC’s ability to deliver and provides a clear path for the detectors to make serious inroads into new physics parameter space in the upcoming 18 months. Improved constraints on new physics are already coming out from the impressive suit of papers and conference notes either public or surely in the works for an exciting winter conference season which will be with us soon.
The decision to run into 2012, was taken by CERN management following their annual
skiing trip/winter getaway planning workshop held in Chamonix last week.
Not only will the LHC continue to run, but the beams will remain at their now accustomed 3.5TeV, providing a 7TeV center-of-mass. In my opinion this is a wise choice. The potential gains in pumping the energy from 7 to 8TeV were there, for certain channels, but in many/most cases a steady and progressive increase in luminosity at this lower energy is more than sufficient to provide the necessary sensitivity. Perhaps the big-wigs also decided to err on the side of caution and thought that even if the machine could operate well with 4TeV beams is it really worth the risk?
We’ll find out soon enough as the management usually do an excellent job summarizing their decision making to the rest of us doing our day-to-day work.
You can read for yourself the full press release regarding the decision to run and energy choice. From an experiments perspective we just want to know as soon as possible. Changing energy means rerunning Monte Carlo’s, perhaps reevaluating triggers and checking cross sections again. Running into 2012 impacts the timing of the shutdown and activities related to that. The long shutdown, now in late 2012 and 2013, is required to replace the splices needs for the LHC to able to approach her 14TeV design center-of-mass energy. But not only that. The experiments have extensive upgrade activities planned for these months and need to arrange manpower, equipment and resources required to safely and successfully delve back into their detectors to replace or tweak the parts in need of a tune up. Knowing this news will provide a clearer path to the exact nature of the early upgrade work.
But before 2012 running we have 2011 running. And even before that, we have lots to do analyzing the 2010 data. Now we can push ahead doing that, safe in the knowledge it will not be the last data that we take at 7TeV!