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Zachary Marshall | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

Pi Day and Technical Difficulties

Happy Pi Day everybody!

The LHC has been running quite happily over the last few days, even ramping up the energy to 1.18 TeV – that’s 1200 times the mass of a proton, and 20% more energy than the Tevatron. ATLAS has been running and collecting data the whole time, even for the few exiting periods when there have been two beams in the machine.

At the beginning of this week we’ll have a short “technical stop.” There are a few things that the LHC guys want to try to fix. There are rules that say we may not run the machine while there are people working on it, so we’ll stop the machine for a few days. In fact, they want to open up a few areas that may be “activated” (read: a very, very, very little bit of radiation could be there). So we’ll stop, and the work on those areas will only start after about a day of waiting (when the areas have “cooled down” enough).

technical_difficulties

Because of the radiation, all the experiments have very complicated documents describing what we’ll do when the beam turns off at the end of each year. There are rules about which pieces of the detector you can work on right away, which bits you have to wait a day to work on, which bits you have to wait a week for, and so on. And all the different areas have to be marked off carefully so that no one wanders into the wrong spot!! Actually, the rules make it really safe – if you hang out in your basement a lot, you will likely get more radiation than any of the people working on the LHC.

So don’t worry too much if you don’t hear exciting news about collisions this week – we’re still working hard, and the machine will be back soon (could even be by Wednesday)! And in the meantime, enjoy some pie!!!!

Update: You can read about the weekend’s fun here

–Zach

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