Nice Collider. What's it do?

NewsHammer Exclusive The big question today for tomorrow at the Large Hadron Collider is what happened to Tom Hanks? He's the guy CERN asked to push The Button at the last Collider Party back in 2008, the media splash before the 2008 accident. Tom said he wouldn't miss it and since then has been doing some serious hanging around.

Last year Tom rolled back in with his Angels and Demons tour at the LHC, trading a honey wagon full of A&D T-shirts for a million dollars of free publicity. The cover story for the secret button rehearsal probably, as there are a lot of buttons at the LHC including "retry" "ignore error" "clear error" and "kill"on the BadAstronomy Tour.

Though the big deal, rumor has it, was Ron Howard bringing along his lucky Happy Days lunch pail to sneak through CERN security, both in and out, in case of an A&D 2 where a mad scientist at CERN takes home some serious micro black holes, you guessed it, and drops off his less suspicious by several orders of magnitude Hannah Montana lunch pail at the Vatican.

Did CERN run out of anti-matter already? A lot of people will be disappointed, at least if Tom doesn't show up tomorrow. Who else would you trust to push The Button? I'd go with Kevin Spacey for an ambiguous real life touch, the slightly nervous button, the wisp of a smile, the you asked for it Boom so here it is.

Or Jim Carrey for some real collider frenzy.

In any case, don't worry about tomorrow. CERN isn't, CERN has it all figured out. If CERN loses we all lose. End of story. If CERN wins, CERN will be back to try it again at full power later this year, full luminosity as it's called but never explained by CERN on 20 websites promoting the LHC. Call it maximized beams at 2808 proton bunches per beam, the maximum bunches, the max protons, but all that still at tomorrow's half-power 3.5 Trillion Electron Volts times two for 7 TeV collisions. If maximized tomorrow (no way) that's about the momentary focused power of 1400 Nuclear Power Plants.

A la carte: Two Proton Potatoes Per Beam

Last December's record 2.36 TeV collisions were also not maximized, a paltry million collisions recorded by CMS. What we'll get tomorrow in terms of luminosity could be small potatoes again. CERN could inject as little as 2 proton bunches per beam out of 2808 as in a test today, March 29, 2010 at 20:40:17 (above image) with bragging rights as all flags turned green. Wow, Stable Beams, 4 bunches through the LHC, Beam 1 about 3000 GeV or 3 TeV and Beam 2 at about 2400 GeV or 2.4 TeV. So tomorrow looks suspiciously like a repeat of today except there will be collisions of a minor order while CERN claims success and safety with as little as 4 bunches. Might be more, though will CERN tell us how many?

Recall last time when CERN did not even accelerate protons in September 2008, using just their injection energy of 0.45 TeV per beam, not even colliding beams, yet claiming a great success on the non-accelerating non-colliding LHC and safety of course. Doomsday a bust. Collider a bust days later without beams.

Well impossible anyway with no collisions for one thing, and no danger at low power collisions when the Tevatron has been safely colliding (not official however) at 2.1 TeV, not the 1.96 TeV reported by CERN when CERN claimed its 2.36 TeV record this December finally. Go figure.

March 30, 20110: The Day Something Or Nothing Happened

So what will happen tomorrow? According to CERN's crystal ball, we will have safe collisions at 7 TeV. Take it away Tom Hanks: Yes, we have no bananas. We have no bananas today. If maximum collision energies were tried at 7 TeV or about 75 times the power of the Tevatron, this could fry the collider and 200 journalists there for the worst thing of all, a PR disaster. If safe at low luminosity CERN won' t advertise that fact as it didn't in December at 2.36 TeV or more recently this month when CERN claimed 3.5 TeV test beams.

We could be left to assume (wrongly) that the collisions of tomorrow will be maximum luminosity at 7 TeV. Only a handful of science journalists with some physics will know what luminosity is, some won't ask and none will tell us, as they never have bothered before. It's not their responsibility to question the value of this experiment, just report what CERN says. In the end with 10,000 physicists, CERN must know what it is doing. Though it may be one of those quantum counter-intuitive problems. You think CERN knows but CERN doesn't. Or the answer is under CERN's nose, 27 km of collider built by CERN to find out what CERN doesn't know.

What happens tomorrow? If things go wrong, it will be all over eBAY at least:

CERN And Toyota Deals

Used collider with some front-end damage, about $8 Billion to fix. Original Toyota Accelerator Warranty transferable. New owner can sue.
The Giddings and Mangano Cosmic Ray Argument is finally being put to some good use. Micro Black Holes safe, Toyota Microchips not so safe. The mania for microchips has gone so far that the latest generation of micro-microchips relies only on a hundred electrons to push gateway data, too small to fight Cosmic Ray battles launched from Space. And by the way, what happens to all the non-radiation-hardened microprocessors and other electronics and equipment CERN forgot to shield or redesign at the LHC when the extreme ionizing including nuclear energies produced by the LHC blast the collider day after day? Your mounting radiation hazards suddenly discovered at the LHC after 10 or 15 years. In comparison Toyota Cosmic Ray bombardment is insignificant except for Toyotas.

What happens tomorrow? CERN tells us via the CERN cypher. Closer, closer and when CERN copy becomes a blur, read between the lines. The four major experiments will have webcasts, meaning from their control rooms, as the underground LHC is off limits during hazardous beam events, including the standard radiation events they produce like heavy X-rays for one type of trouble right around the 27 km ring, a consequence just of forced magnetic bending of proton beams.

Webcasts from CMS, ATLAS, LHCb, and ALICE, plus from computer central, the LHC CCC, CERN's main control room. Or in other words there will be collisions in all four main detectors/ reactors. So why not say so? Is it a secret? A surprise? Will Tom Hanks mysteriously transport from Arcturus, the movie, through the LHC Stargate from Lost to push The Button after all?

Why bother with this media event? Isn't this a science experiment? Even if there is no accident, no apparent trouble, we will see no results. It will take weeks to analyze computer data. That's all we have. No one can eyeball these experiments that will generate the momentary heat of our Sun magnified X times. No X value from CERN. The low power RHIC collider at Brookhaven produced 4 Trillion C or 7 Trillion F temperatures in a flash of fusing gold ions at a minuscule 0.2 TeV, or way hotter than the core temperature of our Sun or any star.

No CERN talking heads at the scheduled Press Conference tomorrow will know what happened, not even the CERN computer systems will be able to report on the production of new Collider Objects, like Black Holes or Strangelets, not in real time. If they are produced and if they are detected they might destroy Geneva before we get the computer data.

Why bother convincing us again and again it won't happen? Didn't we buy this collider? Didn't we pay $10 Billion? Why try to re-sell us on it? Do we have buyers' remorse? Do we need Collider Therapy? Just having some fun are we? Collider Roulette? Then what's wrong with the LHC? Why the endless sales pitch in the media from CERN? Every week The CERN News: Why We Fight The Collider War. Are we losing? What's wrong now?


Plenty if you look at the data to date. The CERN screenshots on this page from LHC systems performance since March 21, 2010 tell the story. Click to read.

Cryogenics Twilight Zone

LHC Cooldown Status since January, tells us of recurring cryo glitches in the same Twilight Zones, Sector 1-2 and Sector 2-3, or along 1/4 of the LHC ring of 27 km of wonky machine. Anybody notice? Nothing to worry about, but click on the screenshots to read the graphs and the comments from CERN Control Center on daily machine failures including unscheduled or real Emergency Beam Dumps.

Can't say I like the look of these dozens of monitors, at least the public ones on the Internet, that CERN uses too, that don't tell us or CERN of overall machine status. Unless they were on fire, they quietly say nothing you want to know Now. CERN had the same problem with access points where personnel didn't know if there were or weren't any hazards going in (kid you not) not even a Green-Yellow-Red flag system in place before the 2008 accident. Same thing with all these screens. How safe are we? Condition Red? Yellow? Green? How about a bright Status Bar on every screen? Flashing Idiot Lights? Automatic Woopee Cushions for all that collider control room fatigue.

How many bunches per beam? Actual luminosity per beam vs maximum? Actual TeV per beam though we have that in fine print. Graph the beams properly. Relying instead on a Fast Beam Current Transformer to graph Intensity on a shifting scale with tiny numbers? Re-jiggle that in your head? Ever heard of human error? Collisions when, where? See LHC3? What is happening NOW? Is this a $3.99 Collider at Target?

For some Keys to reading CERN codes on these screenshots of LHC1 pages see LHC Portal. Then CERN's own modest attempts. For ATLAS decoded and CMS decoded on SymmetryBreaking. For 20 pages of LHC Live Status starting with LHC1. And 19 multi-screen live views starting with LHCDataWide.

Watch Fire The Collider March 30, 2010 Live From The LHC

CERN webcasts from 08:30 to 18:15 CEST or Geneva Time or 6 hours earlier in New York or starting at 2:30 AM. Go to this CERN page for Twitters and Links to Schedules and Live Webcasts.

If we all make it through tomorrow, CERN has a series of cliffhangers lined up that will spook us maybe for years to come, all the way up to maximum-maximum 1150 TeV lead ion collisions maybe in 2013, after the LHC shuts down again for a year to fix problems not fixed yet for safe 14 TeV proton collisions and the 1150 TeV lead collisions. In September 2008 the LHC was on a roll and almost ready to go all the way CERN kept insisting, at least to 10 TeV until the $40 Million 2008 accident. Now a year and a half later it's another $235 Million to go all the way or maybe not, maybe if there's more money.

Get Stallone. CERN Wants Another Cliffhanger

Altogether we're another 3 years away from the original Stage 1 of the LHC experiment which is currently 4 years behind schedule.

Stage 2 is radiation hardening of equipment (neglected for 10 to 15 years) and moving vulnerable power supplies for more civil engineering for lots more money CERN wants (well over $100 Million) to bring the collider back to a Safe Long Term Stage 1. Stage 3 is to upgrade luminosity massively for way more power with 3 new and/or improved pre-accelerators for something over $1 Billion more. At least some old LEP equipment needs to be scrapped in any case, the LINAC and PS and the 6 year old SPS doesn't make the grade either if you replace the LINAC and PS. At least CERN isn't in a big hurry now. Buys us a little more time to freak out before 14 Terra Firma.

Upgrade The New LHC

The new improved Super LHC? Yeah and what's this one supposed to do?

What bank would give you a dollar if you told the manager a story like that?

This is Part 6 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 starting March 30, 2010. "Doomsday Report: New Physics At The LHC" will appear in The Science of Conundrums.

Part 1: Large Hadron Collider Waiting For Doomsday

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

NewsHammer Part 3: Higgs Discovered At The Large Hadron Collider / More Delays

NewsHammer Part 4: Scrubbing CMS Data At The LHC

NewsHammer Part 5: LHC Lords Of The Ring

--Alan Gillis