The Compact Muon Solenoid

NewsHammer Exclusive Not just any magnet, but the biggest solenoid ever built, with about as much steel as the Eiffel Tower. A machine within a machine, 1 of 4 giant experiments within the immense LHC collider complex. The Compact Muon Solenoid or CMS is also like the other experiments, a reactor and a complex of detectors. The M in CMS refers to 3 Muon detector systems, but it has others as well designed to track the particle zoo release from collisions.

Each experiment has its particular focus, but essentially they work the same way. When particle beams are accelerated around the LHC ring to near light speed, the two beams traveling in opposite directions are squeezed together and forced to collide in each detector. In the CMS it's done by a extreme 3.8 Tesla magnetic field. Whatever event is produced is not only monitored and analyzed, but the collision products are contained within the magnetic bottle. So far at low energies up to 2.36 TeV last December in the CMS, there was the usual shower of new particles and some unexpected extras.

Shiny New CMS Goes For A Test Drive

The collider buzz wasn't about results. CERN was all excited about the spectacular performance of what could have been a giant red Ferrari parked outside the Globe. It got its own CERN paper written by pages and pages of physicists who work on CMS, and wow were they ever excited. They were so excited by the fabulous specs, the sheer power of the CMS million liter 2.36 TeV with 10,000 valves, the amazing bells and whistles on the biggest dashboard you ever saw, the va-va-va-vrooom as it turned all the corners impeccably, they forgot to analyze the data.

They got some down on a million souvenir DVDs for later but some obvious extra mesons couldn't be ignored blasting out of the extreme exhaust. No sweat, just a bit of smoke. Only 10% to 14% more charged hadrons than expected. Specifically more Kaons and Pions, these quark re-arangements of basic quarks and antiquarks that should more or less decay into muons.

Since 2.36 TeV was in Terra Incognita, it might be just one of those things. Not exactly a problem when the two predictive models based on lower power collisions didn't exactly agree either, or not a problem anyway, just more mesons rising a bit steeply at new higher energies and maybe a trend at still higher energies where they could well be a problem when the LHC collides heavy lead ions maybe this Fall. Paraphrased directly from the BBC report.

Never mind, the big question is why? Why more mesons? Are these new new mesons produced from fusion energy? From smashing protons into quarks that recombined? Or is something else going on? Come on BBC. Ask the right questions. I know, they're usually better with farm animals and foreign potentates.

But is CERN any better with protons? We think we understand why physicists were too excited to analyze the CMS data scientifically. Often there's so much data you have to toss out most of it to make any sense of what is left. There are various sophisticated computer programs for that developed out of the bad old days of nuclear physics when physicists were designing A-Bombs at Los Alamos. Code name: Monte Carlo.

Original GEANT-Zéro Monte Carlo Generator

CERN had its old GEANT program and they're still using GEANT-4 that spews out particles in Fortran. GEANT-Zéro really should be in a museum instead of this abandoned ?LEP Hangar? but CERN is very attached to the good old days of particle physics, when Nuclear sounded important. Here a technician wearing a lab coat and latex gloves drops the particles into a mechano-'opper (out of frame, left). The center dial is spun randomly and then physicists go for coffee. When they come back the first batch of Monte Carlo'd particles is ready. If there are still too many mesons or other troublesome particles, the new smaller sample is re-Monte Carlo'd.

If there are still problems with data or the usual disagreements in interpretation of data, there is the Roulette Option for testing algorithms and a weekend bus trip by Car is arranged to a nearby casino like Chamonix. Now of course they are called Collider Conferences and unfortunately some real work must be done. Presentations. Taking notes on the back of envelopes. The piercing question. Gone are the days of gleaming prop planes chartered to Monaco with physicists waving their perpetual sandwiches, talking and too busy to eat.

Still we can't be sure exactly what happened to the CMS data. It seems to have gone through both systems and came out without a scratch. Blasted mesons! Troublesome little things getting in the way of serious data like pixel performance. Is that the only answer?

Of course there should be New Physics but this is just too soon for that. A few small collisions at low power for CMS calibration. But CERN should remember that New Physics comes mostly from physicists and not the collider. Unexpected results may have unexpected causes. Studies should be done. Trying to elbow the mesons out of the collider and worry about them later when there are more of them interfering with data, sounds rather medieval. Especially when it is possible that some Kaons might form Strangelets and then you'd have a real 5-star collider emergency. More on Strangelets later.

But a second event at the CMS should have alerted 2,500 physicists about the extra muons.

The Strange Case Of The Misbehaving Magnet

The other totally unexpected main event at CMS this past December hasn't been advertised at all by CERN.

Seems the CMS actually does increase beam power when its On. CERN discovered the effect over the entire 27 km length of beams. From this Steve Meyer's Powerpoint slide shown (below) at the December 18, 2009 CERN meeting, we see the ideal "Santa Klaus" proton beam whipping around very near the speed of light.

CMS Off, Santa Ho Ho Ho

CMS On, What Happened Santa?

Beam energy changes? And that's at the usual operating power of 3.8 Tesla in the CMS, ring magnets much weaker to handle low energy 1.18 TeV beams at that time. Earth's field is an extremely low 0.000032 Tesla in comparison.

What about collisions in the CMS detector/reactor? Will they too be more powerful? Will the extreme magnetic field of CMS sustain a fusion reaction between beams or sustain collider objects produced? Need some physics papers on this, but like a lot of other risk scenarios, lower power colliders are taken as proof of safety. But no collider before the LHC is remotely equivalent.

You would think there would be a big buzz at Chamonix, the CERN conference last month, but I couldn't find anything on the CMS boosting beam energy in the many reports presented on the LHC. One of those things no physicist will forget to talk about, at least over coffee. A first in collider physics. Being studied now certainly by CERN, but CERN's not waiting for studies. The unstoppable LHC is being powered up again for new beams. Will CERN be more cautious about running experiments? Yes, there's already been an encouraging change to the beam schedule. The first run will be back to 0.45 TeV injection beams instead of a jump to 3.5 TeV. Though CERN has been powering the ring magnets to handle these higher energies. The LHC could still jump through the 3.5 TeV hoop in a day.

But CERN has more to worry about.

After all there was another unexplained event in the same Myers' presentation, P24 screenshot of "Food for thought – V blow up of beam 2" or the LHC's first beam explosion December 11, 2009. More on that later.

Two Added Trajectory Energies To Destroy The LHC?

Higher than expected energies as in Part 2 might be higher still with another Trajectory Energy added to the mix.

You have the 3.8 Tesla CMS magnetic bottle to contain the fusion reaction as in other ordinary fusion reactors, but at the LHC beams are forcibly circulated through it. Part of the effect? Beams push their way through the extremely high CMS magnetic field. In a similar way, Richard Shurtleff's added Trajectory Energy for beams through gravity could also be applied to beams through extremely high magnetic fields, I would say.

Proofs Available From CMS?

The CMS apparent boost to beam energy, looks like a proof of this new added Trajectory Energy through magnetic fields.

The 'discarded' extra unexpected muons produced also in CMS suggest collision energies were higher than 2.36 TeV and so produced more muons. This could be a proof of Shurtleff's original Trajectory Energy through gravity and would include the other Trajectory Energy I'm proposing through magnetic fields at CMS.

Both energies might be magnified at higher and higher TeV.

On Trajectory Energy added by gravity interactions, Shurtleff thinks that at higher and higher TeV energies, ultimately energies of LHC 14 TeV collisions could double to 28 TeV. And that's without considering the other Trajectory Energy.

To paraphrase Holmes, when you eliminate the impossible, you are left with the probable and the unknown.

It's up to CERN to find out what they are dealing with. They have the physicists and about half the world's supply of them. Powering up the collider blithely to 3.5 TeV and for 7 TeV collisions could have other unexpected results like destruction of the LHC.

The Elusive Obvious Effect When Gravity Is Considered Weak

If you force particles through a vacuum pipe at maximum speed near light speed and that's always your constant, with enough RF or microwave energy applied for 3.5 TeV, you have a 3.5 TeV beam. Do the same thing against gravity and you have 3.5 TeV plus you've added extra energy to overcome the gravity or G.

But here's the thinking: Gravity is weak and so can be disregarded. Usually left out of equations. Maybe not so weak. Maybe it's a force acting on several dimensions, and only appears to be weak. Physicists are still trying to understand Quantum gravity. LHC beams also work on a Quantum scale. What will happen?

Force your beam against an extreme magnetic field M, and you have 3.5 TeV plus G and plus M or 2 added Trajectory Energies in addition to 3.5 TeV. Anyone care for a game of Quantum magnetism?

Say if you had water instead of a vacuum in your beam pipe, you would have to overcome the drag by water with more energy W to achieve the same near light speed and energy or particle density of your beam. Here W=G+M. Giddings and Mangano are you listening?

Considering CERN has invested in 9,300 superconducting magnets all supercooled at super expense, you think electro-magnetism and extreme fields would be well understood at the LHC. The CMS would be no surprise?

Anybody studying the effects of extreme magnetic fields on collisions and their products? Seems magnetic effects like gravity are ignored as unimportant as other small colliders haven't encountered problems. It's Collider Weather. What can you do about it anyway?

Could be a similar effect with the other main detectors like ATLAS that also has a similar tremendous but toroidal magnetic field. Also a solenoid, tricky combo. Can somebody check? Hey Steve!

Back To Observed Effects At CMS And The LHC

CERN should be able to measure the boost noted in December in beam energies achieved by CMS when beams were at 1.18 TeV. OK, so try again then to duplicate and study this before going to higher energies. Why not announce the need to run the LHC again at 1.18 TeV to double check findings? No, nothing. Is CERN still in a hurry to get glamorous 7 TeV collisions? Leaving upstart colliders, like RHIC getting the glory for Quark Soup, in the dust.

That's it. Can't think of everything and so we find out by experiment: Saves time to go ahead beams blazing, if the experiment doesn't destroy the LHC.

Still it's been the case at the LHC until the accident of 2008, that machine effects don't matter. Physicists tell engineers what they want and that's what they'll get. Not in 2008. And then a hundred committees try to coordinate everything. Fiddly stuff gets scrutinized under a microscope and the big stuff like untested unmonitored busbars or mounting radiation hazards falls through the cracks with a boom.

This was a disregard of known hazards at other colliders. Complicated by obsession and ambition. If CERN had been paying serious attention to all these articles in The Science of Conundrums about known hazards, and shortfalls at the LHC due to extreme complexity of the project and the resulting 27 km machine, CERN might have reconsidered their hurry-up mission for New Physics. In the end the LHC experiment was obviously dependent on billions of dollars of hardware working and working safely. It didn't. Now add unknown beams and collisions?

Into The Unknown

We now come into the realm of the unknown being explored with unknown energies, by a machine maybe or maybe not in control of the unknown. It won't be the control room operators in CCC who will exercise the control, not when events will occur literally a few meters short of light speed. The machine will be in charge.

Of course there will be unknown effects and unknown interactions. Physicists have been surprised many times by their own research. But here the scale of research at the giant LHC into New States of Matter called a much friendlier New Physics, is of a vastly different order.

Although physicists and engineers can anticipate what might happen based on what they know, the machine is a machine, sometimes reliable, sometimes not. What they don't know, what the machine isn't built for, is what they can't handle. Here's the big thrill element. Can we beat the odds, can we go where no collider has gone before?

Who Decides?

Should we take a chance? Point that 27 km collider at Geneva? Half power or full power? It's not really CERN's decision. It's not even CERN's collider or CERN's money. Paid for by taxpayers. Owned by taxpayers. There are 2 million of them a stone's throw from ATLAS. No one in Geneva was asked if they wanted this collider in their backyard. Why not put the question to these good people? Let them decide. Isn't that fair?

Talk to the people about Spooky Quantum Effects that will come as a complete surprise. Probability zero of course. Tell them CERN has decided on the unknown, that all LHC risks are ZERO. What a relief. Thanks CERN PR.

LHC ReReStart In Progress

Watch any of 20 LHC Live Status Pages from this link.

The LHC is being prepared for injection energies of 0.45 TeV per beam. Once beams are injected into the 27 km ring, then they can be ramped up to higher energies quickly, as high as 3.5 TeV per beam this year and collisions could follow soon at a maximum of 7 TeV in any of the detectors.

Another little glitch on LHC1 (click above) "problem on the PCs of the triplet--access needed--No beam before 8 h tomorrow"

There really isn't any word from CERN on a schedule, not on their websites or even from CERN on Twitter. You can see why. But still what is CERN going to do? Jump quickly, go slow, play bunker ping-pong? Spooky.

From The CERN X Files

Finally this update from CERN physicist Lucio Rossi, confirming several crucial LHC machine safety issues in the fault-prone superconducting magnet systems that failed in 2008. His review of the 2008 accident is discussed in Nature News, Feb 23, 2010, "Did design flaws doom the LHC?":

Catastrophic failure that caused accelerator shutdown was not a freak accident, says project physicist.

Rossi's paper appears in IOP, "Superconductivity: its role, its success and its setbacks in the Large Hadron Collider of CERN".

Rossi concludes in part:

"The incident also revealed a lack of adequate risk analysis (maximum MCI) [Maximum Credible Incident] and of understanding all consequences, as well as an incomplete global magnet circuit protection analysis and an inadequate detection of a dangerous situation. . . ."

You'll find a less academic account of busbar bugaboos in my "LHC Beams Back To Life".

Finally, if CERN were infallible they wouldn't need a $10 Billion collider to find out what they don't know. I don't remember Einstein ordering a collider. His research budget was a few logs on the fire, the "lazy dog" according to Hermann Minkowski, one of Einstein's professors.

This is Part 4 of a series on machine safety and potential risks of expected Collider Objects like mBH at the LHC when the collider jumps to very high unknown energies this March. "Doomsday Report: New Physics At The LHC" will appear in The Science of Conundrums.

NewsHammer Part 1: Large Hadron Collider Waiting For Doomsday

NewsHammer Part 2: Fantastic LHC Energies May Be Higher Than Expected

NewsHammer Part3: Higgs Discovered At The Large Hadron Collider / More Delays

--Alan Gillis


  1. Alan Gillis // March 1, 2010 at 8:18 AM  

    Professor Richard Shurtleff of the Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston has kindly allowed his recent email to me to be published here.


    Thank you for your interest in the proposed effect. However, I do not endorse any criticisms of anyone. I write merely to suggest numerical values for the energies expected if the effect is real. One should check the calculations below for accuracy. Please contact me if you find any.

    The following is taken from an email addressed to The CMS collaboration:

    "Does the data observed agree with the `PYTHIA (PHOJET) model tunes' at 2.52 TeV?

    It may be that the results you report in indicate a collision energy of 2.52 TeV that corresponds to the 2.36 TeV trajectory energy that you measure.

    The calculation:

    EC = ET (1 + 4 \gamma^2 |\phi|) ,

    where EC is collision energy, ET is trajectory energy, \gamma = ET/938.3MeV, |\phi| = 1.06 x 10^(-8).
    [ and .]

    For \sqrt{sT} = 0.9 TeV, ET = 0.9/2 = 0.45 TeV, and we find EC = 0.454 TeV and 2EC = 0.91 TeV = \sqrt{sC} . The collision energy and trajectory energies are nearly the same at 0.91 TeV and 0.9 TeV.

    For \sqrt{sT} = 2.36 TeV, ET = 2.36/2 = 1.18 TeV, and we find EC = 1.26 TeV and 2EC = 2.52 TeV = \sqrt{sC} . This shows that for 2.36 TeV, the collision energy is 2.52 TeV."

    It will take more than these early results to determine whether or not the effect is `real'. We must be patient and let the experiments decide what is real. The question is whether the effect can be used to explain the experimental results. The more results explained, the more the effect is `real'.

    Richard Shurtleff

  2. Alan Gillis // March 14, 2010 at 9:24 AM  

    In another recent email exchange with me, Professor Shurtleff responded to a question I posed to him, he copies in quotes. His email is published below with his approval:


    "Is it accurate to say that in your opinion the extra mesons were produced because in fact CMS collisions in December were at 2.52 TeV and not 2.36 TeV as CERN thinks?"

    Yes and no. If correct, the beam has both energies. The beam moves around the accelerator reacting to electromagnetic fields at 2.36 TeV. Then the beam delivers collisions at 2.52 TeV. The beam has both energies.

    In quantum mechanics there are particle states and wave function (quantum fields). The states and wave functions are different. For instance states must boost unitarily and wave functions boost non-unitarily. The beam moves through the accelerator along the most likely path determined by the wave function. The collision delivers energy by changing the particle state. If the state energy and the wave function energy differ, then the beam can travel with the wave function energy (2.36 TeV) and collide with the state energy (2.52 TeV).

    Such ideas can be easily dismissed; I have not heard back from CERN. On the other hand there is the problem of cosmic rays. And there may soon be data from CERN.

    I hope this helps.

    Rick Shurtleff

  3. Alan Gillis // March 30, 2010 at 1:54 PM  

    Professor Richard Shurtleff comments on questions I raised in a recent email to him.


    Thank you for the link to Symmetry magazine at Fermilab.

    [Gillis Comment on Media and CERN:]

    No one from CERN or Fermilab has contacted me.

    You write: "the CMS solenoid changing beam energy as though adding a magnetic ET. The full 27 km beam length was affected and CMS recorded it via a screenshot off a control panel monitor. If not an added magnetic ET, what else could it be?". In my opinion, it is still early in the startup of a massive machine and any unusual observations should be repeated and investigated before any explanation is required.

    As for the G & M paper, the topic is "TeV-scale black holes" about which many others have thought a whole lot more about than I have. For my opinion, I take comfort in the idea that observations indicate that much more energetic particles than expected at the LHC bombard the Earth's atmosphere. At such energies nuclear binding is insignificant so lets just lump the irons and other nuclei primaries with protons. Relativity implies the head-on collisions at the LHC in one reference frame are collisions with a particle at rest in another frame. So I side with those who do not worry about the LHC. On the other hand it is good for people to consider carefully what might happen at the LHC.

    According to the Symmetry magazine, collisions are expected on or soon after March 30 at 3.5 TeV trajectory energy with headon collisions at 2*3.5 = 7 TeV.
    Consider the ET & EC formula,

    EC = ET (1 + 4 \gamma^2 |\phi|) ,

    where EC is collision energy, ET is trajectory energy, \gamma = ET/938.3MeV, |\phi| = 1.06 x 10^(-8) (local gravitational potential over speed of light squared).
    For ET = 3.5 TeV, we find EC = 5.6 TeV and 2EC = 11.1 TeV . This shows that instead of the expected 7 TeV, the headon pp collision energy is 11.1 TeV according to the ET EC formula.

    If 11.1 TeV collisions are observed instead of 7 TeV collisions, then the unexpected observations would need to be investigated and repeated before anyone, including me, would believe the effect has been seen. It is a slow process, but it is better to be careful.

    bye now,

    Rick Shurtleff

  4. Eric // April 16, 2010 at 6:28 PM  

    Binding energy and black holes -
    The fact that there is much increased available mass than colliding rest masses and that gluonic interaction in qgp (accepted for p-p in one paper I've seen) or anyway around it within nucleons
    - I think is relevant to this issue of binding even though it isn't the nuclear force binding.

    But as I understand, the prerequisite for black hole formation in tev Gravity would be sufficient energy or mass density to fulfill black hole formation. I think that is the only criteria and that some binding wouldn't need to be relevant at the specific time and place for the relevant extent of mass where this density is reached.

    In the the absence of a nuclear force, and of only QCD (gluonic) could be very relevant for light strangelet production as the 135MeV (pion mass) wouldn't be needed to contain the strangelet or dibaryon - as its not made up of differentiated baryons.

    Lighter strangelets means easier to produce according to cerns' own recommended thermal particle production model.