It feels like just yesterday that we were taking about the Large Hadron Collider smashing the world record for most powerful particle
collision circulation ever at an energy level of 3.5 TeV (tera-electron volts). That was actually only a scant two weeks ago, and the Collider hasn't been sitting still. Just a few hours ago in Geneva the LHC managed to collide those protons beams together at an obviously unprecedented 7 TeV, which kicks off the first collisions of what is to be two years of high-powered experiments the likes the world has never seen. Well, if it all goes according to plan and it isn't shut down by a measly ">speck of bread again, that is. Cross your fingers!
"It's a great day to be a particle physicist," Director General Rolf Heuer of CERN said in a release. "A lot of people have waited a long time for this moment, but their patience and dedication is starting to pay dividends."
So what happens next? The LHC keeps running at this power for 18-24 months, generating data for study from countless collisions — the results of one such batch of collisions you can see above, as captured by the ATLAS detector. There's actually a second goal in all of this, too. Back when the LHC was shut down after that ill-fated helium leak, it was actually capable of reaching a collision energy of 14 TeV. With the two-year long test, CERN will be able to continue to work on the particle accelerator and get it back up to full strength.
For those interested, Engadget live-blogged the event, and it's interesting to see the stages — and hiccups — the LHC went through as it warmed up to 7 TeV collisions.
CORRECTION: As Angela stated in the comments below, we got our colliding/circulating streams crossed. The article has since been corrected.