BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.


Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio


Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

 

Updates from the Control Room

1730pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

So things have begun to calm here and the head honchos have gone to ponder their success or do a few more media interviews. The remaining staff in the control room are enjoying ruminating on a remarkable day.

Still not much alcohol being consumed. The sobriety is impressive but perhaps a trip to the right bar in Geneva will tell a different story. And who would blame them if it did?

There are still people intently studying the screens and there isn't a Facebook page or an MSN message in sight.

The CERN bosses took a big risk when they agreed to launch the first beam in the full glare of publicity and it has paid off. One was honest enough to say it didn't feel such a smart idea when the cooling was not working so well. Fortune favours the brave though and all who have been enthralled today will watch this project with interest in the weeks , months and indeed years to come. As the Director General of CERN told his team 'C'est la fin du debut'. It was from Churchill of course 'This is the end of the begriming'. Apt that the phrase was from World War 2 where science and indeed physics played such a big role. Now and here at CERN it is a symbol of international co operation and constructive progress from which all are sure to benefit.

Stay tuned for more big bang day on Radio 4 and enjoy hearing anything you want again on this site.

Bon soir

1706pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Well it is getting close to close down for these live updates but stay tuned for pm front row and then Ben Miller's first part of his great big particle adventure at 9 tonight on Radio 4. The Genuine Particle at 1130 tonight will prove to any remaining doubters that physics is fun.

1636pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Just spoken to Lyn Evans who has been running things here at CERN. He confirms no collisions for the time being. The next phase is really to start to control the beams or in the language here, 'capture them'. The first collisions which will be at relatively low energy will be in a week or so they think. These are unlikely immediately to offer new physics but the word from Lyn Evans is there is a lot of excitement even over when they have so far.

1631pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Neat thought that a big event with a countdown has happened on the date 10.09.08

1618pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

These people have real stamina. They are now discussing what to do next. What you have to remember they told me is that this is a 24 hour a day operation now.

In fact the LHC will stop for a bit in mid winter. I am sure they will do some work on it the main thing is that electricity becomes so expensive here in midwinter that it isn't sensible to run the collider at that time.

1559pm (BST) FROM Professor Brian Cox

After the minor controversy about David Kings remarks on Monday morning about the value of CERN, we note that CERN costs quite literally peanuts. UK taxpayers spend £80 million per year at CERN, whilst in 2006 (the last year for which we could find figures) we spent £120 million on peanuts.

1550pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Somewhat more relaxed here in the control room. The champagne sent from the two detector centres is being consumed gently. There is talk of more beam action still to come but we don't know. Certainly they would like to get the anti clockwise beam running all the way round non stop. There is a hope that they might capture the beam at some point. Conjecture surrounds when they might do the next really big thing which is to run the two beams together and get them to bash into each other. That was thought to be a while off but may be in the next few days.

1515pm (BST) FROM Andrew Marr, Radio 4

Well, the big excitements of the day are over. There are wild rumours about setting those protons to collide within 24 hours. This is probably a particle physicist's idea of a joke. Still, CERN has made much more progress in a single day than they'd expected and the mood is triumphal. There will be drinking in Geneva tonight. For it is now clear that this expensive, intricate and awesomely large piece of lab kit, a concrete doughnut with giant cameras attached, actually works. Now, as the director general has told his staff, it's over to the physicists to uncover mysteries.

I feel tired, crumpled and hot but genuinely privileged to have had a ringside seat inside the control room. It's a historic day which is being compared to the Apollo project or Hubble - except that it's looking deeply into things, rather than up and out and things. What's discovered here over the next months and years should change our view of the universe (94 per cent of which we can't see and know little about). The main thing is - this is the start of a story and the chapters ahead will be more interesting still. September 10 2008. One to remember.

1514pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Good to hear about the bottle coming from CMS. Atlas, the other detector may claim they got their first. All still happy if remarkably sober in the control room.

1450pm (BST) FROM Alexandra Feachem, inside the control room at CERN

Continuing a tradition of long standing among accelerator physicists, a delegation from the CMS collaboration drove the 6 miles from their experiment to the control centre to deliver a bottle of Bollinger, wrapped in a print out of the first particle detections, to the machine managers of the LHC - gratefully received.

1413pm (BST) FROM Deborah Cohen, BBC Radio Science, in central control room

This may seem a bit premature but Lyn Evans has already been asked now the LHC appears to be working what happens next. He replied: "It's too early to say. We' ll be waiting until we have results then we can discuss whether we need another machine". It's only now that the physics can start. After all the years of planning Paul Collier, head of the CCC, says, "I feel as if I've pushed the particles round myself".

1411pm (BST) FROM Professor Brian Cox

I get the feeling that everyone is quite surprised and extremely relieved that both beams have successfully circulated the LHC today. The party has really started in the central control room. Its important that both beams have circulated because it means that there no major technical issues with it. The LHC has truly been born!

1404pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Wow that's the moment. The anti clockwise journey is completed. A huge crowd of staff has gathered now. They are not stopping at this though. In half an hour they will try to make it do a continuous circuit.

1404pm (BST) FROM Professor Brian Cox

It's happened - the 2nd beam has just circulated around the LHC. There is now a party in the control center because this means the LHC works!

1403pm (BST) FROM Alexandra Feachem, inside the control room at CERN

Torchwood coming up. James Gillies, head of communication at CERN acted as science advisor for the script for this one-off radio version of the hit TV series, starring John Barrowman. James is a huge Torchwood and Dr Who fan, and in many ways CERN is more science fiction than anything the scifi writers could come up with. As to the scientific accuracy of this episode? As James says; "nobody believes there is a rift in space time below cardiff, and no one believes there is one beneath here. i was most impressed in this episode with Captain Jack's knowledge of particle physics, I'd never have guessed he'd know quite that much about it."

1359pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Lyn evans on the world service:
'I want to take this opportunity to thank colleagues in the us, japan, russia, india who have contributed to building this machine'

'In doing pure science we have pushed the limits of technology'

1352pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

On the way to atlas now which is point one. There will be a huge crowd there watching at the atlas detector. So very nearly there. The atlas people will observe for 10 minutes before the last segment of the journey.

1346pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Now we are three quarters of the way round. When it makes it round this will be twice as much as they initially expected to archive today.

1341pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Very hushed. This beam is not quite whizzing round but for the people here just getting round will be a big moment.

1338pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

We are under way again and reach point 4 which is half way then a big oscillation lost the beam. More applause and we are at point 3.

1331pm (BST) FROM Roland Pease, BBC Radio Science, in central control room

A bit tense at CMS as they expect the beam by now.

1325pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

More applause. The beam is back on its way and has reached point 5 after a minor correction. The combination of relaxed and purposeful work is remarkable. They describe the problem as a 'big bump but now we are back on track.'

1322pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

We have a small hitch. The beam is stuck at point 6 once quarter of the way round. Point 6 this morning was three quarters but remember this time we are going the other way round. Puzzled faces looking at 16 screens in the corner of the control room.

1315pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Evans on world at one:
'Here at cern is the world centre of excellence and europe should be proud of it'

Peter Higgs whose particle should be detected here at cern tells radio 4 '- will be very surprised if they don't find the Higgs bosun. It will show that the theorists have not been talking nonsense over all these years. This is a milestone in the discovery of what has been going on at the smallest level of matter........ This has been in the future for me for a long time and it is very gratifying for me.'

Higgs is known as a very modest man who still flinches when people talk about his particle by its name.

1308pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

A big expectant crowd is gathered in the control room waiting for news of the beam's progress. Lyn evans has just heard his countdown played back on the world at one and roared with laughter. The second beam should be even faster than the first says Evans.

1304pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Applause rings out in the control room as the anti-clockwise beam is on its way. It has reached point 6 which is a quarter of the way round. The man in charge Lyn Evans will explain all on The World at One in a couple of minutes.

1256pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

You may wonder what happens about lunch here? Well I am reliably informed that a large amount of cern business goes on in the wonderful international canteen where you can eat just about any food you choose and the cakes are splendid. The word here is that celebrations won't be in the canteen but are more likely to be in town tonight. The normally sober geneva city center might be a tad livelier than normal tonight.

1252pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

So we are still waiting on the next beam which will go the other way round to this mornings. The people here are still anxious about the cryogenics and the need to cool down the magnets. Plenty of optimism still but the red bits on the screens have to turn green. Some very large baguettes being munched and people are gathering amidst an expectant hum.

1235pm (BST) FROM Roland Pease, BBC Radio Science, in central control room

One of the big discussion points at the mid-morning meeting of the CMS collaboration was whether the first event picture was colourful enough to release to the media. "Can we add some pink?" one high-up asked. Then they got back to the unimportant engineering

1234pm (BST) FROM Roland Pease, BBC Radio Science, in central control room

Steve Myers, head of the accelerator department, confided that today's protons were not the first things to circulate in the LHC. While preparing the machine they sent smart "ping pong" balls through, to make sure the pipes were clear and the sensors working. When one of these mini-Sputniks got stuck, they had to fire in a second to knock it free.

1200pm (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

It appears they had the problem with the cryogenics at 4 this morning but it came right in time. It could have been very different as the head of acceleration points out you really don't know what is going to happen.

1155am (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

One of the screens here that is almost entirely green has got a few spots of red on it. That means a few magnets are a bit warmer than they should be. Operations manager Paul Collier says it is not a big worry but will delay the anti clockwise beam by about 45 minutes.

1138am (BST) FROM Roland Pease, BBC Radio Science, in central control room

The experimental area of the CMS like all the LHC 100 metres underground is locked off for safety reasons. We have just been down to the neighbouring service caves with technicians who have needed to correct some last minute wiring. They are all happy now and waiting for the next beam shots .

1132am (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

They have just lost some cryogenics which keep the tunnel cold so we can relax for a moment. Remember it is colder than outer space down there. The delay will be a minimum of 15 minutes .

1127am (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Different crowd in this time. Fewer suits and more cern staff I think. The man in charge lyn evans denies looking tense this morning. 'Did I look tense? Surely not'. His dress code is casual. Jeans are uniform here. Some classy CERN t-shirts though.

1123am (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

People gathered round in the LHC corner of the control room in sudden air of expectation. A bit less tense than this morning but no one quite knows what will happen.

1121am (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

The big screens are back on in the central control room so it looks as though they are gearing up to send the beam the other way round. They were not initially expecting to do this today.

1107am (BST) FROM Deborah Cohen, BBC Radio Science, in central control room

Sir Christopher Llewellyn-Smith, one of the former Director-Generals of CERN, was just reminding us that the history of particle physics is littered with theories that later turned out to be entirely wrong. He was warning that the same will inevitably happen when results start to come from the LHC. You wouldn't think that was the case if you read the text books: they tell the story as if the discoveries came one after the other without any deviation down blind alleys.

1031am (BST), Professor Brian Cox

First Beam in Atlas DetectorWe have the first beam event in the ATLAS detector!

Gallery

1020am (BST) FROM Andrew Caspari, Radio 4, in central control room

Some of the screens are darker now. I am told they are sorting a couple of software problems but at midday cet they will have a go at sending the beam the other way round. "Lyn Evans who is in charge says he hopes that will be a quieter business if you can do anything quietly here today.

I don't think there is any chance of it being quiet.

0959am (BST) FROM Deborah Cohen, BBC Radio Science, in central control room

Woman's Hour is on at 1000. It's all about women and science on this auspicious day for fundamental research. CMS and Imperial College physicist, Claire Timlin, is in the Central Control Room and is a live guest on the programme with Jenni Murray.

09.45AM BST, Andrew Caspari, Radio 4

Chris Llewelyn Smith former DG of cern says 'there has never been a start up like that' Now they have done more than they Thought they would do in a whole day but they are not resting on their laurels. The next challenge is to capture it and later they will have a go at getting it the other way round. As with all these things that is not as easy as it might sound but if you can feel optimism but then you can certainly feel it here.

Deborah Cohen, BBC Science Unit

Claire Timlin has just arrived in the CCC having hot footed it from CMS. There she says was a scene of great excitement and champagne as the beam went through. Claire says:"We waiting expectantly for the beam going in the opposite direction. I thought I was going to be really cool about it but we're like kids at Christmas. It was like a NASA countdown to a launch". Claire is going to be live on Woman's Hour on Radio 4 at 1000.

09.31AM BST, Professor Brian Cox

This is much better than expected. I've just heard that the beam circulated the LHC 3 times on the first attempt at just before 10.28 CET. The senior guys here do look genuinely surprised at the performance of their 27 km baby. To put it into context, I was told earlier that the last machine here, LEP, which was much simpler, took 12 hours to get to this point. LHC has delivered the goods in an hour!

09.30AM BST, Andrew Marr, Radio 4

And at 9.30 it's a triumph! The beam has gone round the circuit three times. Vast applause. The director general of CERN when this was first conceived a quarter of a century ago, Sir Chris Llewelyn-Smith has embraced Lyn Evans, the Welshman in charge of the switch-on. Grizzled particle physicists of a certain age and craggy stoicism are grinning and - just possibly - a tear has been seen. After a nail-biting few hours, this seems to be working. Given that it's one of the most expensive experiments conducted by mankind, that is probably a relief.

09.28AM BST, Radio 4

Hugs and kisses all round. They've done it. The beam is round three times. This really is a huge moment for people here who have spent a lifetime. The DG says c'est la fin de la debut. This is the end of the beginning. Still no booze but some doDGy coffee

09.24AM BST, Control Room

Beam has completed journey round tunnel.

09.20AM BST, Andrew Marr, Radio 4

So, it's just after 9.15am and another round of applause in the CERN control room - possibly I heard the odd unscientific whoop too. Beams of protons are now three-quarters of the way round the 27 km tunnel, at the most massive of the three cameras, Atlas, way ahead of schedule. It's going very well. One of the scientists who's been working on Atlas, Brian Cox (he of D:Ream and Things Can Only Get Better, once upon a time) is now predicting that they may be able to fire beams in both directions by the end of the day. (Eventually, of course, so some protons can commit suicide by charging into each other and revealing Big Things for the Higher Good.) But he's probably just over-excited.

09.19AM BST, Andrew Caspari, Radio 4

Steve Myers _ who is head of acceleration is very happy but says its not as fast as another one 19 years ago but he knows it will get much much faster in the days and weeks to come. Big cheer as the beam reaches atlas which is the biggest detector.

09.14AM BST, Professor Brian Cox

It's 10.14 Geneva time and the beam has just gone almost all of the way around LHC in the last few minutes. I get the feeling that it's going better and certainly faster than expected. From the monitors here the beam looks like its behaving itself very well. I wouldn't be surprised if we have a go with the second beam before the end of the day!

Andrew Caspari, Radio 4

Satisfied murmuring interspersed with bursts of applause as the beam gets three quarters of the way round. They are a sober bunch though . Still only the odd clink of glasses. (He man in charge. Lyn evans allows himself a smile.

09.00AM BST, Andrew Caspari, Radio 4

We are half way round. Leading scientist steve myers says we may get a collision sometime today but no one knows.

08.58AM BST, Andrew Caspari, Radio 4

Lyn Evans the man in charge says we are half way round. That's better than expected. He tells Radio 4 he is too busy for emotions. Clearly he is very excited.

08.56AM BST, Andrew Caspari, Radio 4

Great joy mixed with tension . Beam now 6.7 kms round . Champagne nearly flowing. Anxious faces turning to smiles.

08.21AM BST, Roland Pease, Science Producer

I'm at CMS - the detector at the far side of the LHC ring. This is the critical point on the LHC circuit - when protons get here, the start up is really underway. All systems are up and running we're told.

07.45AM BST, Andrew Marr

Much excitement and nervous anticipation, handshakes and grins, this morning as we count down to the switch-on of the Large Hadron Collider. In the control room, crowded now with people who've given the best years of their adult lives for this moment, the talk was of a last minute hitch overnight. But, as Steve Myers, one of the lead scientists on this project said "we've found a work around". So it's back on track. Lyn Evans, the Welsh scientist in charge of the big switch-on has just been over to greet the Radio 4 team. He says this is far scarier than jumping out of a plane. He was smiling but he looked like he meant it.

Back to Top



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy