[News-releases] World's Largest Research Project begins Epic Scientific Journey

Tim Meyer tmeyer at triumf.ca
Wed Sep 10 03:40:32 PDT 2008

Content: Press Release
Date Issued: 10 September 2008

World's Largest Machine begins Epic Scientific Journey

(Vancouver, B.C.) — History was made this morning as scientists started
operation of the world's largest scientific project, the Large Hadron
Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland.  Canadian scientists and engineers at
the scene held their breath as sensors indicated that the high energy proton
beam was transported successfully around the 27-km in circumference particle
accelerator.  This morning's success marked the first operation of all
accelerator systems working together, setting the stage for the giant
discovery machine to tackle some of the most compelling questions in modern

Canada has been closely involved in all aspects of this global undertaking
with pivotal contributions to the LHC accelerator itself, the massive ATLAS
detector that will record the results, and the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid
that will distribute the data around the world for collaborative analysis.
The team of more than 150 Canadian scientists from the ATLAS-Canada
collaboration, which includes the University of Alberta, the University of
British Columbia, Carleton University, McGill University, l'Université de
Montréal, the University of Regina, Simon Fraser University, the University
of Toronto, TRIUMF, the University of Victoria, and York University,
celebrated the news of this morning's success.  Spokesperson Rob McPherson,
a research scientist at the Institute of Particle Physics and a professor at
the University of Victoria, remarked, "This milestone is a victory stemming
from years of effort and thousands of people working together.  Canada
should be particularly proud as many of our contributions were critical to
today’s spectacular success."

As Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics, TRIUMF
(based in Vancouver, B.C.) has been shepherding the project along with the
ATLAS-Canada team.  TRIUMF director Nigel S. Lockyer said, "This is as a
real accomplishment and the threshold of a new era.  Breakthroughs are just
around the corner.  It is through critical participation in global projects
like this that Canada remains connected to---and relevant in---the modern
world of science and technology."  TRIUMF contributed key technical
expertise and designed several of the most complex parts of the LHC

Starting up such a machine is not as simple as flipping a switch.  Achieving
this milestone required full integration of every system of the accelerator,
not unlike the launch of a space mission.  Although the test this morning
was predicted to go well, everyone involved was quite nervous.  To
commemorate this achievement, the Canadian community organized a number of
celebrations across the country. 

The LHC collides protons, which form the nuclei of hydrogen atoms, together
at the highest energies yet achieved in the laboratory, mimicking energy
densities believed to exist in the early universe.  Scientists will use
these collisions to probe fundamental aspects of matter such as mass and
will be searching for clues to exotic phenomena such as dark matter and
extra dimensions.  

After this morning's success, two more milestones will complete the triple
crown and launch the LHC into full physics operation.  On October 3, the
Worldwide LHC Computing Grid will celebrate the start of its crucial data
challenge: the analysis and management of more than 15 million Gigabytes of
data every year, produced from the hundreds of millions of subatomic
collisions expected inside the LHC every second.  On October 21, the LHC and
its detectors will be formally inaugurated by the participating countries
including Canada.

(For a full list of local media contacts at all 11 Canadian institutions see

Timothy I. Meyer, Ph.D.
Head, Strategic Planning and Communications
4004 Wesbrook Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 2A3
Tel: 604-222-7674
E-mail: tmeyer at triumf.ca

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