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Posts Tagged ‘beam dump’

Beam splash event.  CMS detector side view

Beam splash event. CMS detector side view

It looks like tonight CMS will be the chosen experiment to press the red button.  The LHC operators have told us that after they perform several tests with the captured beam 1, they will try to run for 20 min with an untouched captured beam 1 (probably meaning they won’t perform any tests) and then CMS will be asked to push the button to dump it!!!!  As I understand, this is a test of this safety feature that each of the experiments has.  After this, they will re-inject.

In all these exciting years of being an experimental particle physicist, whenever I talk about what I do, and in particular when I mention that I have worked in two of the biggest accelerators in the world, people tend to ask me about pushing the “red button”.    I think no one is exactly sure what they mean when they ask, – oh, so you have to push the red button? -, but it always amuses me and triggers my imagination.  I am pretty sure different people imagine different tasks for this big round red thing (the CMS beam abort button, however, is actually pretty small and green.  At least this is what I have heard…)

When I was working in the D0 experiment at the Fermilab’s Tevatron in Chicago, I was aware of many red buttons, but none of them fit my “ideal” red one.  As a data acquisition shifter (the operator who basically runs the data taking), I had to press many, but I don’t remember any being red (or round for that matter) and all of them were within computer graphical interfaces.

As a graduate student, however, a fellow senior graduate student inherited me a RED squared button for my desktop’s keyboard at work when he graduated.  There were many times when I wished the button had a real effect on things (it was a dummy )….. I sometimes pushed it nevertheless.   This button, which read “PANIC” in its legend, had been passed over  for generations ….. 🙂 I proudly continued the tradition when I graduated.

CMS is running fine, triggering on circulating beams.

Edgar Carrera (Boston University)

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