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Ken Bloom | USLHC | USA

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Feeling squeezed

Here I am at CERN, after fairly smooth travels. (At least this time I didn’t show up with the flu.) The weather here is very nice for this time of the year, and the only evidence I can see for the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull (I love that name!) is somewhat lower attendance than usual for the semiannual CMS computing and software workshop. A number of people who had planned on flying here last week had their flights rescheduled far enough into the future such that it was not worthwhile for them to come.

While changing planes at Washington Dulles, I ran into a colleague (headed in the other direction, back to Chicago from CERN) who had some very good news to report. Over the weekend, LHC operators tried “squeezing” the beams for the first time, as Mike had alluded to last week. This is a focusing of the beams that, like the name says, squeezes them so that all the particles are closer together. A greater density of beam particles means that there is a greater chance that the particles in opposing bunches will actually collide. And that was in fact what happened — the observed collision rate went up, by about a factor of ten. It’s not every day that you gain a factor of ten! As a result, more collisions were recorded in a single day than had been recorded in the entire month beforehand.

The next steps include things like adding more protons to each bunch, and adding more bunches to each beam. We hope to get another four factors of ten in collision rate yet this year. The big question is how quickly they will come. But in any case, it is very encouraging to see such progress.

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