Particle supercollider ready to fire

The world's largest particle supercollider, built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), will go live Sept. 10, the organization announced last week.

Once the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is operational, the Energy Department's Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) will download the results it produces to various labs funded by DOE and the National Science Foundation. The labs will analyze and study the data.

The physics community around the project wants to channel the collision results to labs worldwide, which could test out advanced physics hypotheses concerning supersymmetry, string theory and the like.

By propelling subatomic particles to the speed of light and then smashing them into one another, physicists can get a better idea of how such particles operate at a fundamental level, which can advance our understanding of the basic laws of physics. With a circular tunnel almost 15 miles in diameter, LHC will produce particle beams that are 30 times more energetic than those produced by previous machines. The beams are moved along by 1,600 superconducting magnets.

The first beams will start circulating Sept. 10, CERN officials said. Beams must make multiple passes to achieve full speed.

In 2006, ESnet had an average throughput between New York and San Francisco of 1.5 gigabits/sec. In response to the data LHC will produce, DOE intends to boost that capacity as high as 100 gigabits/sec by 2010.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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