On Wednesday morning, the first particle beam was successfully sent around the full circuit of the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN.
The new science resulting from this grand experiment will turn up in the coming weeks and months, but what Wednesday's event did prove was that the world's largest machine works. Part of that machine is the cathedral-size Atlas detector, one of two general-purpose detectors (the other is the Compact Muon Solenoid, or CMS) in the LHC.
Atlas' development and construction benefited from a great amount of U.K. involvement, particularly that of the Science & Technology Facilities Council, which held an event in Westminster, England to see, via video link, the LHC being initiated. There, event attendees watched the first successful beam circulation in the LHC, which took just less than an hour to complete.
"This is the biggest high of my career so far," said Professor Jon Butterworth of University College London, who heads up the United Kingdom's involvement in the Atlas detector. "I didn't think they'd do it so quickly and smoothly." … Read more