First Beam Sent Around Large Hadron Collider-Dept of Physics - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, September 11, 2008

First Beam Sent Around Large Hadron Collider

The first beam in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN Laboratory in Geneva was successfully steered around the full 27 kilometers of the world's most powerful particle accelerator. This historic event marks a key moment in the transition from over two decades of preparation to a new era of scientific discovery. The event was even heralded by The Fence (see below).  Carnegie Mellon physicists constructed the state-of-the-art electronics, consisting of 150,000 channels, for the endcap muon system of the LHC's compact muon solenoid detector. 

The Carnegie Mellon team led by Thomas Ferguson worked on the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment, which provides a completely different method of recording what happens when protons and other particles collide. The system uses steel to filter out the muons, which are important particles.

Dr. Ferguson had been working on the project for 14 years, so the first successful beam was a notable accomplishment in his career. His team included three other Carnegie Mellon faculty members, four research scientists and three graduate students. Their role was developing electronic circuitry and chips to help capture and process information about the particle collisions.

"It is exciting and fun to build these electronics, do the research and development, and test the prototypes, then see how the final design works," Dr. Ferguson said. "The whole idea is to discover as much as we can about each collision."

Once all tests and calibrations are completed on the LHC, scientists will turn on two proton beams traveling in opposite directions, then make them collide inside the Atlas and CMS experiments.

It promises to be a historic moment in physics.

CERN Press Release:

U.S. LHC First Beam Web site:

Pittsburgh Tribune Review Article
"Carnegie Mellon has hand in Big Bang Collider":