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Ken Bloom | USLHC | USA

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How much data, how soon?

First off, we should mention here that CMS’s first paper from collision data has now been accepted for publication by the Journal of High Energy Physics. It’s a measurement of the angular distribution and momentum spectrum of charged particles produced in proton collisions at 0.9 and 2.36 TeV, using about 50,000 collision events recorded in December. It is really wonderful that this result could be turned around so quickly! The first of many papers to come, we hope.

Meanwhile, as already mentioned here, we now have the news of the run plan for the LHC. CERN is preparing for the longest continuous accelerator run of its history, 18 to 24 months. The inverse femtobarn of data to be recorded in that time is a lot, and will give us an opportunity to make many interesting measurements. Whether any of them will be evidence of new physics, I for one am not going to speculate! But if nothing else, this plan sets out what our LHC life for the next ~three years is going to look like.

But a shorter-term question comes to mind — 1 fb-1 over 18 to 24 months is one thing. But what about just the next few months? There is a major international conference coming up in July. What sort of LHC results might be ready by then? That will depend in part on how many collisions are delivered. I’ve seen various estimates for that, but they vary by an order of magnitude depending on the level of optimism, so I’d rather not guess. It will also depend on the experiments’ performance. How efficiently can we record those collisions? How quickly can we process them? How soon will we understand various parts of the detectors well enough to make quality measurements? How smart and clever can we be throughout the entire process? How much sleep is everyone going to get?

Ask me again in July. Meanwhile, game on.

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