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Rama Calaga | USLHC | USA

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Not completely there…

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

Indeed at 21:40 (GMT+1) on Aug 8, the first shot into the LHC made it all the way to IR3 – way to go!! One can probably say that there were no major polarity problems or big magnetic errors, miraculous and thanks to all those working hard in the tunnel installing and commissioning the sector. Hope the trend continues all around.

Later around 2 am one of the aperture tests being carried had caused a minor quench (remember 450GeV & very low intensity). Some access is taking place both from the accelerator side and ALICE. Should resume early afternoon and continue injection tests. Will investigate further and update.

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Are we there yet ?

Friday, August 8th, 2008

It is like a fish market in the main control room now. Today, Aug 8, 2008 at 16:40 all the safety interlocks tests in the LHC were completed and the machine was fully closed for the first beam tests. However, it hasn’t without some small hickups, a fire alarm in the pre-injector (PS) and along with some other cabling problems, small panics before the big thing…

It is about 6pm now and they have managed to put the beam through the injector chain and all the way through the transfer line just 15 m before the LHC tunnel where it is stopped. The stopper in the transfer line will be removed shortly (6-8pm). The plan is to then adjust the timing of the injection magnets to put the beam into the LHC and thread the beam thereafter the sector 2-3 before midnight. Slightly optimistic but when you wake up tomorrow could the “first beam in the LHC” already be an old story ?

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If you haven’t heard it already

Monday, July 21st, 2008

A month ago, I remember seeing a lot of red on the LHC cool down status, but now it is all BLEU. Almost all sectors except for 7-8 & 8-1 are now close to the 1.9 K target and the two sectors are around 20 K. Very impressive progress, almost no big hiccups. So the beam is coming…

The first-first-first beam in the LHC is anticipated in the first week of August in sector 2-3!!! But, hardware commissioning is not finished in this sector, so clock is ticking faster for some than others… I mean people working underneath. Quite ambitious program for two days and first timers, btw the beam gets injected at point 2 and stopped by collimators before point 3. Don’t expects collisions yet, lot more hardware commissioning still to go. More details here if you are interested.

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EPAC08

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Just returning from the last of the EPAC08 series (European particle accelerator conference) in Genova, Italy. Never traveled with 70 colleagues on a bus to a conference, but not having to deal air travel and lost baggages was somewhat pleasing. The 7 hour ride was a bit long, by about a couple of hours. Perhaps the DG warned the driver of the precious cargo onboard, imagine the delay of the LHC startup without them!

Many interesting talks and posters and many more familiar faces. Talking about LHC status, the cryogenic folk expect to cool all the 8 sectors down to 1.9 K and try to finish the hardware commissioning and powering tests sometime before mid-august. The optimistic feel that the beam will make into the LHC by the end of August and have collisions in Sep-Oct. Naturally there will be delays, but will the pressure of the deadlines help speed up the commissioning and hopefully not result in some hasty decisions. It feels a bit like the pressure just before the conference submission deadlines, I mean for “last minuters” like me. It was announced that the 1400 papers submitted to EPAC08 are almost processed and available online even before the end of the conference, lets hope the LHC commissioning will beat all expectations. I leave you with one of the conclusions from the ending plenaries at EPAC where Hitoshi Murayama hopes a New York Times headline, “The other half of the world discovered”!

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Swiss Wine

Monday, May 26th, 2008

Never heard of great Swiss wine, but couldn’t refuse when some friends were heading out to the apparently famous “cave ouvert”. All the wineries around CERN (didn’t know there were so many) are open for tasting over the weekend. Although, it started out with the typical gray weather, the sun managed its way out and was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The Geneva transportation board had arranged shuttles to drive you around so drunks are not running over wine tasters in the narrow hilly roads of Satigny and neighborhood. Many were even brave enough to bike but the thought of uphill road after a few glasses makes me nauseous. But I would recommend taking your bike out there if you are not drinking, it is quite beautiful.

So the typical wines from what I gathered were chasselas, gamay, gameret and pinot noir. There were some Merlot and others (btw I am not a wine expert) but nothing came across to be spectacular. I found myself thinking that the 4 Euro Bordeaux from Champion last week was more satisfying. I am not really qualified to say something intelligent about wines and perhaps I didn’t manage to traverse all the fine Swiss wineries, but I was a bit disappointed, not for the free wine off course.

However, I did learn that they was a very good place for RIBS somewhere in Dardingy, have to check it out soon.

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LHC Upgrade ? I haven’t seen the LHC yet!

Monday, May 5th, 2008

You may ask why one would speak about an upgrade while everyone is still in “acute anticipation” for the first few particles to make it around the machine? Perhaps there are even skeptics who doubt that we may never be able to circulate particles in this giant hole. I was recently browsing through the “LHC the guide” and stumbled upon one of the fascinating facts which may cool down that skepticism. Apparently, during that major tunnel digging, the two ends of the 27-km circular tunnel met up to within 1 cm!

Ok, that said, and if you believe in the “as soon as possible” version of the beam schedule, it is estimated that focusing magnets closest to the interaction point will reach the end of their lifetime circa 2013-14 (or before) due to radiation damage from collision debris. Instead of replacing exact replicas, why not do better. And why not, since these magnets do have the largest impact on the holy grail called luminosity.

So, discussions about the LHC upgrade began a decade ago which is now being coordinated under the CARE-HHH network, you can find all sorts of stuff here: http://care-hhh.web.cern.ch/CARE%2DHHH/default.html
After several workshops debating about what seemed like infinite new ideas, it now boils down to two contenders (both democrats, I think). Ask me in a couple of years and the priorities maybe completely different, physics and/or management. The U.S. folk under the LARP program (https://dms.uslarp.org/) have been very busy on the upgrade program since the beginning. Now more than ever, about 100 physicists from U.S. labs (this is lot for accelerator physics) are working very hard to get those particles circulating and yes, do even better next time around. It is perhaps a bit ironic, since the beginning of the biggest accelerator may also mean the demise of some other smaller siblings – sort of “survival of the fittest”. To be cont’d…

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