back to article Collisions at LHC! Tevatron record to be broken soon?

Forging ahead much faster than had been expected, particle-smashing boffins at the Large Hadron Collider have now carried out actual collisions - blasting beams of protons into one another at a healthy 450 giga-electron-volts each for total whack of 900 GeV. Since the mighty LHC was crippled last year in an unfortunate electro …


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  1. Schultz Silver badge

    Or maybe...

    the unusual hurry has something to do with that fiend who made it through during that little mishap last year and now tightens the thumb screws on some innocent looking scientist.

    Sent the marine!

  2. Valerion

    Ghostbusters said it first

    Egon: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.

    Venkman: What?

    Egon: Don't cross the streams.

    Venkman: Why?

    Egon: It would be bad.

    Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?

    Egon: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

    Ray: Total protonic reversal.

    Venkman: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

  3. John Baglow

    900 GeV?

    I'm below tyro level when it comes to particle physics, but I have a question.

    "blasting beams of protons into one another at a healthy 450 giga-electron-volts each for total whack of 900 GeV"

    Is this actually the case? Take a perhaps poor analogy: pick up a book, place it between your palms, and exert 5 lbs. of pressure on it from your left and your right hands. How many pounds of pressure are being exerted on the book? The counter-intuitive right answer is--5 lbs. (Not 10.)

    By analogy, then, are we not getting a total "whack" of 450GeV, rather than 900?

    I'd be happy to stand corrected.

  4. luis sancho

    damocles sword

    The Quark Cannon is NOT a civil program, but a military device, ‘reconverted’ to peaceful use NOT to close an Industry of War that should have been cancelled after the cold war ended. The First Atomic Bomb was intended to be also an Atomic Cannon but due to its enormous size physicists opted out for a Bomb. The study of particles became then a collateral benefit of the study of Nuclear Weapons with atomic cannons. Now, as the Atomic Cannon reaches the awesome forces of ‘strong’ quarks, the jump on power of the bombs it researches is astounding. In military terms the Nuclear Company of Europe (CERN) has built the new generation of Nuclear Weapons, a quark factory that can create cosmic, quark bombs, which are inverse Atomic bombs that mass together energy into mass (M=E/c2), provoking big crunches of our ‘electroweak’ mass. If any of those experiments gets out of control – and CERN has no provisions or studies for such event – the big crunch of our weak mass can continue outside the lab and collapse the entire mass of the Earth into a quark condensate, pulsar or black hole. The nervous, funny way you talk about it, the massive censorship in any comment on this in mainstream press, the delays, accidents of this awesome machine, all plays as a scripted tragedy, topic of the human arrogant, ignorant electro-weak bacteria that can't understand their null importance in the Universe. it reminds me of jurassic's park greedy financier taking the dino at home. The totalitarian principle said that in physics all what ca happen will happen. And so this will happen, the questio is when? for what you say soon.

    1. jsp

      Yeah it must be true...

      ... because there is no mention of it anywhere and so it has obviously been supressed.

      Nurse! He's out of bed again.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    It's not as easy as it looks - and it doesn't look easy

    Having commissioned a few accelerators over the years, one thing you see is that the schedule changes hour-by-hour. You have a list of things that need ticking off, but you often don't know how long each bit will take. So they might go faster on some things, slower on others. But you need a plan - it's called 'Project Management'!

    It's hard to get the estimates right because most of this stuff hasn't been done before. As Einstein said: 'If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called research.'

    They are going quite fast though.

  6. Z 1

    No big nobs..

    "They could literally do a few mouse clicks [what? no Big Knob?] and in a few minutes be at higher powers."

    Am slightly disappointed at the lack of a frankestein switch which, when thrown, causes the lights to dim and several of the boffins to start laughing manically!

  7. Christoph Silver badge

    The real danger

    Surely the real danger is of hard-pressed tabloid journos swapping a couple of letters when typing 'hadrons' and leading to endless snarky comments in El Reg articles.

  8. lpopman


    "They could literally do a few mouse clicks [what? no Big Knob?] and in a few minutes be at higher powers."

    And I was expecting a comedy lever on the floor in the corner....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No lever.

      I want a control that goes to 11 or I'll consider my taxes to have been wasted.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    What's a jigga-watt?

  10. Tim Croydon

    @John Baglow

    What about car crashes? Does that mean it's alright to hit someone head on at 70mph if they're doing 70 the other way because it'll cancel out?

    Try your 5 lb trick with a balloon and then say it's not feeling 10 lb of pressure.

  11. Stephen Hunt
    Thumb Up

    @John Baglow

    It is 900GeV.

    Each of the speeding hadrons has 450GeV. When they collide they annihilate each other freeing up the 900GeV to create all the short-lived particles which are seen in the event diagrams.

  12. Dunstan Vavasour

    Project Plans

    Somehow, the project plan in the reference PDF makes every other project plan I've seen look mundane.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @ luis sancho

    As long as this "military research" results in my being able to get hold of a BFG, I don't care...

  14. Dominic Shields

    Nice Tinfoil Hat Propaganda Generator

    You have there Luis, reminds me quite a lot of the Postmodernist Essay Generator, good work

  15. Titus Aduxass

    @damocles sword

    Er... what?

    And why no apostrophe?

  16. Robert E A Harvey
    Paris Hilton

    all head, Mr Scott

    I am amazed that none of the nutjobs who write about the LHC have suggested that it is really a warp drive intended to move the entire planet

    I attach a photo of someone with experience of earth-moving

  17. stuart Thompson


    Apparently they actually used 540Gev according to their own front page.

    The #LHC accelerated a beam to 540 GeV overnight. Here are the pictures #CERN

    Follow the link for pics of happy scientists.

  18. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @ John Baglow

    Hey John,

    900GeV is right. The better analogy is when you have two cars driving in opposite directions down the highway at 60 km/h when they crash (possibly due to someone blindly following the orders of there SatNav) into each other the difference in there velocities is 120km/h.

    So 450GeV beam going one way, hitting one going the other way at 450GeV is the same as hitting a non-moving 0eV particle with a whopping 900GeV beam... And thats enough to make anyone (or anything for that matter) go to pieces... ;)

  19. Gianni Straniero

    Glenn Beck

    I'm not actually saying the LHC has already brought interdimensional invaders into our continuum and started raping our wives, but why won't CERN deny that it has?

    There has been an awful lot of media speculation that is really damaging to CERN. I wonder why they won't just put all our minds at ease and confirm that the world has not been turned into grey goo. Of course I am not saying that it has, but they should be up-front about whether or not the unverse has been turned into strangelet soup.

    Until they do, people will continue to speculate, and this can only be damaging to CERN's reputation.

  20. DI_Wyman
    Thumb Up

    So that's why.. 2 minute egg was totally hard boiled this morning!

  21. Anonymous Coward

    "Damocles Sword"

    Nice conspiracy theory you have there, I'm in!

    Maybe it was all meant to happen by God, he knew we'd get here and destroy ourselves, all meant to be... oh no wait... that's just one totally unbelievable load of bunk too far, definitly no evidence of that one.

  22. Anonymous Coward

    @John Baglow, @Tim Croydon

    You both ... O-level physics ... FAIL.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    @John Baglow: exert 5 lbs. of pressure on it

    Really it doesn't matter how many hands you use. the answer is defined by the question!

    Thats just like the question which is heavier a ton of feathers or a ton of lead? (neither!)

    if you want to get complex the force form the left is equal and oppositte to the force from the right hence it remains stationary. +5 and -5 = zero! however the book is under compression that force being 10!

    So yes if you crash a car at 30mph and car doing -30 mph the outcome is zero mph and a 60mph collision.

  24. Dan 10

    450 vs 900 GeVs

    Intuitively, I would also think that two objects colliding at 450 each would equal a closing speed of 900 GeVs, but doesn't the theory of relativity contradict this, and suggest it's still 450?

    (I'm no science boffin, so don't bother flaming me for my ignorance. A helpful explanation of why I'm going wrong would, however, be most welcome.)

  25. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    No big nobs!

    But I'm waiting for them to turn it up to 11.

    Everyone knows that's when the party starts!

  26. Neil Stansbury
    Thumb Up

    Come on hurry up...

    The sooner we put this "God particle"/Higgs boson nonsence to bed the sooner we can properly re-examine the Standard Model and start doing some useful physics again.

  27. Dungeekin

    LHC Update - 24 November 2009

    Dear World

    As you may be aware, we recently restarted the Large Hadron Collider following the magnet incident last year. Our highly-trained scientists today started accelerating protons again and we are pleased to announce that we have started making collisions.

    However, we regret to report that there's been a slight mishap.

    Unfortunately, it appears that a leftover crumb from the recent Bird/Baguette/LHC Interface Issue remained in stasis within the LHC chamber, and was subsequently struck simultaneously by protons travelling at 0.9998c in either direction. This had unexpected results, both positive and negative.

  28. Ian Stephenson

    obligatory quote...

    Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!

    Had to be done.

  29. leakyPC

    Portal Opening

    I hope the Portal opens to parallel worlds like in sliders.

    I for one welcome, are invading neighbours from a parallel universe.

  30. Max Pritchard

    It's not the knob that's important

    It's the dial with a needle that slowly increases through a yellow triangle into a red triangle marked "danger" with a corresponding noise that increases in pitch - and steam beginning to vent - the obligatory Cameron-esque yellow flashing lights, sirens and polite and calm female voice murmering "... you have three minutes to reach minimum safe distance...". We need more emphasis on introducing drama into our control interfaces.

    Or perhaps that would mean changing the light bulb.

  31. Paul C. Hartley

    we could be GODS!

    "They could literally do a few mouse clicks and in a few minutes be at higher powers."

    Do they actually mean that with a few mouse clicks they can go from being mear atom smashing mortals to mini universe creating GODS?

    Sort of a "level up" kind of operation.

    Personally I was hoping they had a huge red double handed lever like the kind that used to be used for operating train signals with a brown cardboard label attached to it with a piece of string that says "DO NOT TOUCH"

    Mines the one with the pocket universe in the coat

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    900GeV - reply to Dan 10 and others

    Dan, your intuition is correct - and in fact the huge benefit of counter-rotating beams is that the "center of mass frame" is stationary - all the energy gets delivered into particle production, rather than as useless fragment speed, such as happens if you aimed one beam at a stationary target.

    Relativity allows a closing speed of 2c, measured in the c.o.m. frame - it just weirdly insists that each particle sees the other as moving at less than c - a result which can be dragged out of an analysis of probe signals they might send to one another.

    However, we do not need to concern ourselves with addition of speeds, consider only the energy, a common physicists trick... the rest mass of a proton is about 1 GeV - so these babies at 450GeV have 450 times the mass of a proton at rest - the energy we pump into them does not make them go (hardly) any faster - it just adds to their mass. when they collide, all 900GeV is released - just like cars smashing head-on.

    Actually, for the more interested reader this is not quite true as each proton holds 3 quarks, considered to be point masses, and statistically only two of these will collide head on, the other 4 just whistle past each other.

  33. Daniel Wilkie

    Is it just me

    That is reminded of Black Mesa by the CERN facility? And we all know what happened when THEY opened an interdimensional portal...

    I for one welcome our Xen overlords!

  34. Albert Gonzalez

    Re: 450 vs 900 GeVs

    Dear Dan 10

    Gev is a measure of energy. So when you make a colision with two beams in oposite directions the energy adds, irrespective of the velocity.

    Of course, the relative velocities will allways be less than c, for every of the 3 points of observation ( 2 beams + stationary observator)

    If you want to take into consideration velocities, instead of energies, then the relative times MUST be contemplated, as the time will be slower for the beams than for the ground.

    And THIS is the best part of a very high velocity (energy) collision, the time in the collision will be slowed, so boffins can actually measure something.

    Hope I explained myself.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Benefits to Society...?

    Can someone please explain in terms of impact on society (ie beyond furthering understanding in theoretical physics) what the anticipated benefits of the LHC are likely to be?

    Is it part of research into new weapons technology? Or likely to herald a new era of cheap readily available energy?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      How could the delivery of a new (and presumably nuclear) weapons technology be of benefit to society?

      Thatcher made a similar mistake, congratulating the CERN workers on "how important this work is to all of us" - nobody had informed the bloodthirsty cretin...

  36. dv

    RE: colliding "velocities"

    Actually, 900GeV is really right. GeV is not a velocity unit, it is an energy unit actually (equivalent to Joules after the division by elementary charge). When colliding head on, the energies of the particles would add up - it's the same as the car analogy, not using speed but rather kinetic energy (E = 1/2mv^2). So the mass as well as the velocity of the particle matter in these calculations. On the other hand, it's true that the velocities would add up only to the total possible by relativity velocity equations.

    eV (electron-volts) are used for the unit because Joules are suitable for much bigger objects than elementary particles (18 orders of magnitude larger). Useful for car collisions and electricity consumption, but too large for single protons;-)

    900GeV is only about 1.4 * 10^-7 Joules. For comparison, 9mm semi-auto pistol bullet has a muzzle energy of about 600 Joules, and a Porsche sports car doing 200km/h on a highway has a kinetic energy of about 0.5 Giga-Joules (or, in CERN-units, 3.2 * 10^15 TeV). Take that LHC:-)!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An O-level physicist writes ...

    A GeV is a unit of energy, not speed. If each proton has an energy of 450 GeV then when they collide head on the total momentum is zero and there is 900 GeV of energy which something has to happen to. This is not the same as a proton with 900 GeV colliding with a stationary proton because in this latter case the total momentum is not zero; there will be less energy in the frame of reference in which the momentum is zero. (You might need more than O-level physics to say how much less.)

    An mph is a unit of speed, not energy. If two identical cars collide head on at 30 mph then what happens to the cars will be similar to what happens if a car collides at 60 mph with a stationary car. It will also be similar to what happens if the same car collides with a solid concrete wall at 30 mph, or if the same car collides head on with a much heavier lorry with both vehicles travelling at 15 mph. In each of these cases the velocity of the car suddenly changes by about 30 mph: in the first case each car has its velocity change from 30 mph to zero; in the second case the moving car has its velocity change from 60 mph to 30 mph while the stationary care changes from zero to 30 mph; in the third case the car changes velocity from +15 mph to -15 mph while the lorry hardly changes velocity at all.

    A pound is a unit of mass but you can use it as a measure of force if you assume a particular gravitational field. If you apply 5 pounds of force to each side of a balloon the effect of the balloon will be the same as if you had put it on the floor with 5 pounds of weight on top of it. If you apply 5 pounds of force on the left and 4 pounds on the right then the balloon will accelerate off to the right, together with your hands, as the forces don't balance. If you take a pile of three bathroom scales and squeeze them between your hands each will read the same weight, which is the force each of your hands is applying. If you don't apply the same force on each side then all the scales, together with your hands, will accelerate off to one side or the other.

    I guess they don't teach physics in schools any more ...

  38. Stephen Huyssoon
    Black Helicopters

    Once Upon Time In A Galaxy In A Galaxy

    Let's speculate on what the possible discovery of other dimensions will look like. I am proposing the sudden appearance or disappearance of particles or energy previously unseen. What do you think might happen?

  39. DI_Wyman

    God particle"/Higgs boson thingy

    I had three pints of Tenants extra and a Chicken Vindaloo at lunchtime so I may have just flushed it down the bog.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @John Baglow -- tut, tut, I'm surprised ...

    Do they not bother to teach in O-level Physics (or whatever its being called these days) that energy/velocities are added in collisions?


  41. Max 12


    Here are some images of the collisions, and other LHC activity.

  42. This post has been deleted by its author

  43. James 107

    Many mouse clicks

    > Intuitively, I would also think that two objects colliding at 450 each would equal a closing speed of 900 GeVs, but doesn't the theory of relativity contradict this, and suggest it's still 450?

    Nope, the 450 GeV is a measure of energy, not velocity. Of course, in an accelerator, the two are correlated. As the energy goes up, the velocity gets closer and closer to the speed of light (but never actually to it).

    With regards to it 'being a few mouse clicks' away. If only... There are many issues here. Firstly, we have only had one bunch of protons in each beam wanging around. When running at full tilt, there will be just under 4000 bunches per beam. We also need to fully commission the beam dump, beam cleaning (to avoid stray high-energy particles quenching magnets) system, feedback mechanisms that keep the orbits stable, make sure the response of all that is understood, etc etc etc and much more. This is all being done 'as we speak'. We're all hoping to crank up the energy-knob soon, but the machine needs to be understood first!

  44. Steven Raith

    Turn that mofo up to 11

    As per title.



    "Go man, go!"


    At least if any advanced ET races come across us, they can be impressed with our audacity - destroying the planet with the LHC would be the everyday equivelant of wanging a ferrari into a bridge, backwards, at 180mph, on purpose; messy, stupid and quite fatal, but you have to admire the work and enthusiasm it requires.

    Go, for obvious reasons - lets blow shit up.

    Steven R

  45. Anonymous Coward

    If one more of you buggers mentions Ghostbusters

    I swear, the end of the world will be the last of your worries

  46. Rocketman

    Books And Cars Are Affected By The Higgs Boson Also

    Concerning the energy of collision, the kinetic energy of the particles would be (1/2) * (mass) * (velocity squared), see I realize that their kinetic energy is but a part of their energy but just looking at an everyday example like pushing on a book or two cars bashing and talking about the force just doesn't cover it. And btw, the understanding of energy is what this experiment is about. They speak of finding the Higgs Boson as being the particle responsible for gravity because their Standard Model says it must exist but I'm hoping they have to make a new model.

  47. Kevin Campbell

    Douglas Adams was RIGHT!

    He just had the wrong system. I bet it turns out that "Hrung" is an ancient PraxiBetal term meaning "quantum singularity."

    Therefore the LHC will produce The Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster of Sol 3

  48. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    There is no "Higgs Boson" (moderatrix: humbly resubmitted, I replaced image llink

    Those of you familiar with "Zeke's Yin Yang Model of the Universe" will recall that gravity is not actually a "force" but rather an observed effect of the distortion of the space-time continuum.

    Photons, which are the only objects in the universe, consist of two (or possibly more) particles which orbit each other in several dimensions. A very simplified diagram is here:

    The two (or more) dots, each surrounded by a force, and circling each other, easily attach to (or possibly even form) the fabric of time and space, rather like a rider attaches himself to a street car.

    Shortly after the "Big Bang." however, there was not enough room for the sub photonic particles to expand into proper photons, so instead they took very convoluted orbits that involved many, many photons. The individual photons dancing within these clusters still attach to the space-time continuum, but because they are bound to many other photons, cannot move with it. As a result, a portion of the space-time continuum is "captured" by the object. Going back to the street car example, imagine two indestructable commuters, handcuffed together, each grabbing onto streetcars going in opposite directions. Then just scale it up by a gazillion or so and you can visualize what is going on: a tiny part (yet extending to the edge of the universe) of the space-time continuum becomes attached to the object, and moves along with it.

    This creates effects we call INERTIA and GRAVITY, no boson is needed to make it work.

    The beer is for Hawking, he got it right.

  49. Steve Coffman


    where's my crowbar when I need it?! I'll see you guys in Lambda Core...

  50. mmfiore

    Finally the Theory of Everything

    Einstein was right about the shortcomings of Quantum Mechanics and so therefore String Theory is also the incorrect approach. As an alternative to Quantum Theory there is a new theory that describes and explains the mysteries of physical reality. While not disrespecting the value of Quantum Mechanics as a tool to explain the role of quanta in our universe. This theory states that there is also a classical explanation for the paradoxes such as EPR and the Wave-Particle Duality. The Theory is called the Theory of Super Relativity and is located at:

    This theory is a philosophical attempt to reconnect the physical universe to realism and deterministic concepts. It explains the mysterious.

    1. Misoriented
      Thumb Up

      @Super Relativity!

      It has an awesome name, so it MUST be true!

      I can see it all now. Super Einstein and the rest of the Super Relatives, such as Hawking the Evaporator and The God Particle, using their ether-derived powers to save Universe the evil clutches of Quanticaa and her army of Stringites.

      This idea is comic gold!

  51. Anonymous Coward

    @Dan 10

    Relativity says that the particles can't be moving any faster than c relative to each other. That's true in any frame of reference, including the ones where either particle is at rest. But the total energy involved is the same in all of them: 450 GeV + 450 GeV = 900 GeV.

    Basically that's why they describe the collisions in terms of energy, not speed. You can always give a particle more energy, but at relativistic speeds doubling energy does not double the speed. Most of the energy becomes mass (e=mc^2 and all that) and the particle gets heavier.

    Even though the relative speed is the pretty much the same (ie damn near close to c), there's twice as much energy available to make new stuff, like Higgs bosons.

    "The Soupening" - that's the *really* bad Highlander sequel, isn't it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I get the relativity stuff, I actually knew it but couldn't get it into words so thank you for that but one important point, there was a good Highlander sequel?

  52. Janko Hrasko


    Europeans are just as much fun!

  53. Youngone

    The Dungeon Dimensions

    I for one am very disappointed at the lack of mentions of The Dundeon Dimensions. What do we have Wizards for anyway, if not to repel the ravening hordes of.... Oh, hang on, wrong reality.

    As you were everyone.

  54. Lyle Dietz

    Dimensional portals.

    I'll go buy a crow-bar.


    We do what we must because we can.

    For the good of all of us

    Except the ones who are dead.

  55. Deodok

    Pressure 5+5 = 5

    If pressure is applied from two sources, and each pressure has a starting point of 5, then the total output pressure is 5.

    If you had a book between both palms, and you applied 5 lbs of pressure with one palm, then the 2nt palm would feel all 5lbs of pressure (try it, put a book inbetween your hands and push with one hand, the other one will move if you dont push back!)..

    So the pressure sources will equalize, if we were talking about mechanical force then the book would feel the full amount of source added.

    Gas pressure is kinda fun to work with, air motors, homebrew cannons, shifting a house from it's foundation using a footpump :p...

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @An O-Level physicist writes...

    You should probably use something other than cars in your examples, as their collisions are far from elastic. :)

  57. Rasselas

    Time and All That

    Some claim that the universe began with a Big Bang and that all matter burst forth as an expanding universe, expanding at presumably the speed of light. This is of course ridiculous. What happened at the Big Bang was the emergence of Time itself, without which there can be no velocity, no vectors, and no matter - especially that of the particulate kind. Logically, particle physics, and astronomy etc., like alchemy itself ,are all an illusion. It is no coincidence that the Large Hadron Collider is situated in Geneva - spiritual home of Rolex and Omega, the Masters of Time. Those CERN scientists should gather up their plastic tubing and jubilee clips and get on with some serious science.

  58. pitagora

    newtonian physics on a quantum level is a big NO

    "Concerning the energy of collision, the kinetic energy of the particles would be (1/2) * (mass) * (velocity squared), see"

    @Rocketman: you are taking newtonian physics and applying it on a quantum level. That's plain wrong! E=mc^2 is what you should apply to particles.

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