Sep 10, 2008

Success for 'Big Bang' experiment

By Paul Rincon
Science reporter, BBC News

Three decades after it was conceived, the world's most powerful physics experiment has sent the first beam around its 27km-long tunnel.

Engineers cheered as the proton particles completed their first circuit of the underground ring which houses the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The £5bn machine on the Swiss-French border is designed to smash particles together with cataclysmic force.

This will re-create conditions in the Universe moments after the Big Bang.

But it has not been plain sailing; the project has been hit by cost overruns, equipment trouble and construction problems. The switch-on itself is two years late.


Read the latest on this story at 'Big Bang' experiment under way.


Anonymous said...

Bravo, CERN! Bravo, Europe!

Science lives and is growing stronger... in the EU nations, at least.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if this had been a US project, how badly would DOE or NNSA have screwed it up... and then how quickly they would blame the contractor. And if it were a success, DOE or NNSA would take all the credit and not even allow the contractor to be mentioned in the press release.

Anonymous said...



Spot on.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, back here in the good 'ol USA, we hand off our crown jewel national labs to a corrupt and inept CONSTRUCTION COMPANY!

Anonymous said...

Here is some meat for the attack dogs.

Yesterday, Roger Snodgrass reported that Pacific Equity Partners was going to sign an agreement with NNSA to move science to a new building away from weapons and that PEP would build this new building and take all the financial risks.

PEP was mentioned as a private equity firm among many that had bid for this chance.

Besides that the economics would make no sense to a credible private equity firm, here are a couple of interesting facts.

1. PEP is not an American firm but is an Australian firm that has invested mostly in the South Pacific. It is not a construction company but it is not a science company either.

2. PEP was founded and is run by people who used to work for Bain Capital in Boston.

3. Bain Capital was a major firm of Mitt Romney.

4. The nominal closing date on PEP's offer is late October or early November.

So, after a little bit of Googling, this PEP deal (like the Trinity Site Redevelopment deal)looks like wishful thinking and hand waving.

In the case of the PEP potential deal, the timing to be within days of the election appears to have more to do with Republican Presidential politics in a swing state than it has to do with anything real.

Would NNSA really want its scientists working in a building owned and maintained by a private foreign company?

Comments and attacks?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the stories about how Russian companies building the US embassy in Moscow in the mid 80's set it up with all sorts of innovative spying devices? Here is a little reminder:

New U.S. Embassy Annex in Moscow Urged; Schlesinger Also Favors Rebuilding Top of Chancery to Foil Bugging (Washington Post - June 30, 1987)

The State Department's special consultant on the bug-ridden U.S. Embassy in Moscow said yesterday that he has recommended rebuilding the top three floors of the chancery and erecting a new six-story annex, a development that would require at least an additional $35 million and the renegotiation of a 1972 U.S.-Soviet accord on construction terms.


Sounds like this foreign private equity firm, PEP, bears much closer scrutiny. Was this Terry's idea, by chance? Was this some pork for his Republican friends? The Bain Capital/Romney connection makes me wonder.

Anonymous said...

Well "technically" per the LANS contract with NNSA, LANL employees are not NNSA employees. Clause H-17 "CONTRACTOR EMPLOYEES - In carrying out the work under this Contract, the Contractor [LANS, LLC] shall be responsible for the employment of all professional, technical, skilled, and unskilled personnel engaged by the Contractor in the work hereunder, and for the training of personnel. Persons employed by the Contractor shall be and remain employees of the Contractor and shall not be deemed employees of the NNSA or the Government"

Other DOE national sites (PNNL, ANL, ORNL) are using this approach - non-government funding for lab buildings staff with lab researchers. The key is clearly being able to show to DOE/NNSA that they are not paying [reimbursing LANS for cost] for anything associated with the private facility. one of the reasons in the past UC labs were not wild about this approach, was UC as a public entity had very strict "conflict of interest" rules when public money was involved. And it was harder to make and maintain this separation when fed (DOE) and state (CA UC) dollars/employees were involved. Now that LANL is a private company, half of the issue has gone away.

Anonymous said...

I believe, and all the criteria suggest, that the LANL funding could be better spent on a laboratory that submits to peer revue.

Anonymous said...

revue - noun - a not very serious theatrical show with songs, dances, and jokes and short plays often about recent events.

Anonymous said...

Peer revue... is that like a peep show?

Anonymous said...

"I believe, and all the criteria suggest, that the LANL funding could be better spent on a laboratory that submits to peer revue.

9/11/08 3:07 PM"

I believe, and all the criteria suggest, that you are an idiot and you are qualified to be the VP.

Anonymous said...

The peer review question doesn't make much sense. The majority of the work at LANL is nuclear weapons. Is it suggested that we have people from the Peoples' Republic of Berkeley review this work?

Eric said...

Back to CERN, ATLAS, et al.

This is a really exciting time for physics.

The appearance or lack of appearance of the Higgs at approximately 160 Gev (I think) will change physics from the physics of the really small to the physics of the really large.

On the LBL site, there is a great video of the cascade of particles created in the proton-proton collisions (I think that these are the colliding particles.) of the ATLAS project. The video was done by Joao Pequenao and is really clear.

Anonymous said...

3:35, are you sure that's not the definition of a blog?

Anonymous said...

In college I conducted a "Big Bong" experiment and it created a (thankfully temporary) black hole in my brain. Probably different physics though...

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you remembered to put that on your clearance application... OTOH, if Obama can get a clearance (extensive drug use, hanging out with unrepentant terrorists, inflating his resume, etc) then I guess anyone can nowadays.

Anonymous said...

Anyone hear about Bechtel being sued for screwing with 401k plans? Can't find much in the news about it.

Anonymous said...

"Hopefully you remembered to put that on your clearance application... OTOH, if Obama can get a clearance (extensive drug use, hanging out with unrepentant terrorists, inflating his resume, etc) then I guess anyone can nowadays.

9/17/08 9:06 PM"

And GW had a bit of problem with white lines if you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

True. But at least he didn't brag about it in two books. Nor did he hang out with terrorists. Nor did he actually write in his semi-factual autobiographies that he would fight against the US if the opportunity arose.

It comes down to that naggy little security question, "Have you ever advocated or belonged to an organization that advocated the overthrow of the US government?"