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The room in which it happens



Mike Lamont, Deputy Chief of the Beams Department at CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider, turns to face the entrance of the accelerator control center. "There she is," he says.

Fabiola Gianotti, General Manager of CERN, strolls to the crowd of engineers, operators and physicists crowd around the wall of screens that make up the LHC dashboard.

"Who is the driver on shift?" Asks Gianotti, and a woman sitting in front of her waves to her. Gianotti gives her a large Colomba Gocce di Gioccolato, a traditional Italian Easter cake.

For most CERN today is a holiday. But for the people running the LHC, it's time to get the most powerful particle accelerator in the world after a regular three-month shutdown for repairs. The last few weeks have progressively developed by that time.

"We've done 1

0,000 tests," says Rende Steerenberg, Operations Group Leader, the team that keeps CERN's entire accelerator complex running smoothly

The morning started like most mornings at the CERN Control Center. The LHC Pre-Beam Checkout Manager gave a brief presentation on everything that had happened over the past 24 hours and reviewed the daily schedule. The 10-minute presentation ended with a succinct statement in a large yellow text box: LHC ready for jet injection. Usually only a handful of people come to this daily meeting. But today every seat was filled at the table.

The CCC is a large, open space with long, vertical windows looking out over the snow-covered Jura. It is divided into four circular islands, each responsible for part of the CERN accelerator complex. Today, the LHC island is bursting with life and energy.

Jörg Wenninger, who is responsible for the LHC operation, switches between English, French and German to inform various colleagues. "What's the intensity for today?" Asks one of the specialists for the high-frequency cavities, the machinery that accelerates the proton beam. Each team sits down in front of the control panels as the well-choreographed process begins.

The restart does not take place all at once. Instead, engineers send individual proton packets partially into the LHC and deliberately absorb them with collimators before forwarding the next packets.

"We turn the steering and make sure that nothing blocks the proton's path," says Steerenberg. 19659002] The trajectory of the proton beam is measured and fine-tuned sector by sector. After about two hours, the beam reaches point 5 – around the accelerator. Then there is an electric drive near the beam discharge. The expert in charge gets into a car and traverses the French countryside to look for the hardware stored above ground near the access point.

In addition to the title of "The World's Only Biggest Machine," the LHC is perhaps the most complex unit ever built. Each part must work flawlessly for the entire accelerator to work. The people in charge are no strangers when problems arise when they occur.

"It's really variable," says Steerenberg. "Sometimes we can run without mistakes for many days, sometimes in succession."

If there is a problem, the operators and experts at the LHC approach it with the efficiency of a well-oiled machine.

"In the beginning, when the LHC went into operation for the first time, we were more anxious," says Steerenberg. "After seven years of operation, we are all really used to it."

The expert returns. "He's back, we'll be back in a few minutes," Wenninger announces.

At 12:17 pm the workers and machine experts laugh.

"C & # 39; est bon, ça circle!" Applauds Frédérick Bordry, CERN Director of Accelerators and Technology, in French. The first proton beam has made it around the LHC and circulates clockwise almost 11,000 times per second.

"On the side of the beam," he says.

Within 20 minutes, Ray Two circulates in the opposite direction

"Bravo, mesdames et messieurs!" calls Bordry. "Fantastique".


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