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Ken Bloom | USLHC | USA

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Happy Holidays from your US LHC blog!

Well, someone ought to keep feeding the beast on the holiday, so I will do it.  Lots of people are taking a well-deserved rest this week, but the world of high-energy physics does keep motoring along.  CERN is closed down for the holiday, but the Fermilab Tevatron is running this evening and the experiments are taking data, quality of life be damned.  Many authors on this blog have written about the differences between American and European culture, and this qualifies as one more example; the Americans aren’t going to get something like a major world-wide holiday get in the way of taking data.  When I was a graduate student at Cornell, working at the CESR storage ring there, we’d always be running through the holiday too, and as a Christmas non-celebrator, it was always a personal point of pride for me to take a shift that day.  In fact, it was always the time when the machine would have its smoothest running and we’d acquire the most data, largely because no one else was there to muck around with things.

Anyhow, we are closing out a great year for the LHC.  The repair work required a tremendous amount of effort, and it paid off in the machine performance that we saw in November and December.  Last Friday, just before CERN closed, there were presentations from all of the experiments on what they have done with the data so far, and I thought they were all really impressive.  So many things are working out of the box — we are seeing the phenomena we ought to see at these low energies and collision rates, and everything is matching up very well with simulations.  (One could argue that after twenty years of planning, we’d better be this ready!)  There is nothing in the way of new physics here, as there isn’t nearly enough data or collision energy for that, but getting these fundamentals right means that we’ll have an easier time making discoveries when the conditions exist to do so.

So all I can say is that we’re going to have a great 2010 ahead of us.  The LHC will turn back on in mid-February, ready for higher-energy collisions, and we’ll be recording data through much of the year.  I’ll try to write something here on Christmas 2010, and I expect that there will be a lot of good news to summarize.

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