back to article CERN ready to test an even bigger gun

A 10-year construction project in CERN's Swiss/French mountain lair has come to an end – and a few years of testing and integration are about to begin. By 2021, the proton-smasher will have a new linear accelerator, Linac 4, replacing its 1970s-era Linac 2. The first step in the chain of particle acceleration that culminates …

  1. Michael Hoffmann
    Coat

    How many inverted femtobarns...

    ... until one of them gets to dress up as Palpatine and cackle about "fully armed and operational"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How many inverted femtobarns...

      What a waste of an unbelievably large amount of money. This stuff mostly has no practical use - we don't need to know about the Higgs. Hopefully Brexit means that we stop paying for it..

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: How many inverted femtobarns...

        When the electron was discovered, people were saying much the same thing. I guess they were right, and there are now no applications in the whole world based upon technology that manipulates electrons.

        ...or maybe you are just a dullard with a lack of imagination, which is why those working at CERN are generally considered to be a lot brighter than Brexit-voting dolts like you.

      2. Gio Ciampa

        Re: How many inverted femtobarns...

        In the grand scheme of things, it's peanuts compared to other (vanity) projects...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How many inverted femtobarns...

          Finding the Higgs cost about £13 billion. We could have sent Trump to Mars for less...

      3. Jon 37

        Re: How many inverted femtobarns...

        When you get a bunch of really smart people together, give them a lot of money, and ask them to do things that are hard and have never been done before, they tend to invent some amazing things. Even if the original problem you set them isn't useful, the tools and components they develop can often have a wider application.

        For example, a CERN scientist invented the world wide web, to help scientists there collaborate. That turned out to be pretty useful to the rest of the world!

  2. Notas Badoff
    Boffin

    A little side action?

    I'm still boggling at "hydrogen with an extra electron". Sex-changing neutrinos are fine with me, but how the heck did they change the laws of physics? Scotty said it cannae be done!

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: A little side action?

      Negatively or positively charging an atom is very easy to do.

      In fact, the battery in your car does this to hydrogen.

      (Assuming it's lead acid, anyway.)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: A little side action?

      I'm still boggling at "hydrogen with an extra electron".

      They're talking about a hydrogen ion. A neutral hydrogen molecule (H2) is comprised of two hydrogen atoms which are covalently bound. If you break this bond you get either two neutral radicals (H.), consisting of a nucleus (a single proton in this case) and an orbiting electron, or two ions (H+ and H-), one (H+) which has no electrons, and one which has two (H-). They then accelerate the negative ion (H-) using an electric field, before stripping the two electrons. What remains is an accelerated H+ ion. Because the hydrogen nucleus is the simplest element consisting only of a single proton, the H+ is generally referred to as a proton, rather than hydrogen ion, although the two names are equally valid.

  3. phy445

    Start material

    I'm pretty sure both linac 2 & 4 start with neutral hydrogen as the input. The first stage in linac 4 converts the hydrogen into h- ions. The equivalent step in linac 2 strips the electrons away to yield protons. The former is a slightly more complicated process and warrants its own block in diagrams of the system.

    1. Uffish

      Re: Start material

      What surprised me is that the source of the neutral hydrogen is a little gas bottle which they turn on (briefly) to make each pulse of protons. Obvious really but strangely commonplace.

  4. nigglec
    Coat

    Lineac 3?

    What happened to Lineac 3?

    Used as a prototype space defence against our would be lizard over lords?

    I'll get my coat before the men in black helos turn up for revealing earth's defence plans....

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Lineac 3?

      Probably some standalone interim design that got left on the drawing room floor somewhere when the decision was made to build the LHC at CERN.

    2. DuncanL

      Re: Lineac 3?

      "Lineac 1, Lineac 2, Lineac 4..."

      "3, sir!"

      "3."

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        Re: Lineac 3?

        It's just a translation; the actual names are Lineac 1, Lineac 10 & Lineac 100...

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Lineac 3?

        LINAC. Not Lineac.

        LINear ACcelerator.

        Your particle physicists thank you.

    3. Huey

      Re: Lineac 3?

      With all that power they have for the machine they can only light one bulb on the version read-out so it it's 1, 2, 4 then 8 etc

    4. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Lineac 3?

      "What happened to Lineac 3?"

      Their lawyers warned them at the last moment that "triac" was already in use...

    5. gaz 7
      Coat

      Re: Lineac 3?

      Possibly the same as Babylon 4.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lineac 3?

      What happened to Lineac 3?

      Swallowed by a self-induced black hole. But don't tell anyone.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. M7S
    Mushroom

    Lineac 4 is tiny at a mere 90 metres long

    So, could possibly be mounted in the axis of a naval vessel, the sort with the power already in place for rail guns?

    As for what happened to Lineac3, they're just doing all the marketing in binary, "The Lineac 1000" will sound much better than Lineac 8 when some president announces it is being deployed to quell whatever fuzzy-wuzzies we're not friends with at that particular time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lineac 4 is tiny at a mere 90 metres long

      The Lineac 1000 is presumably just a Lineac 2000 with some features disabled. It can be upgraded via a licence key.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Lineac 4 is tiny at a mere 90 metres long

      So, could possibly be mounted in the axis of a naval vessel, the sort with the power already in place for rail guns?

      That would work just fine, as long as the weight of the thing didn't sink them, and their target is magnetically confined in a vacuum.

      1. Neoc

        Re: Lineac 4 is tiny at a mere 90 metres long

        @Loyal Commenter: "So, could possibly be mounted in the axis of a naval vessel, the sort with the power already in place for rail guns?"

        Shades of Yamato/Argo then?

    3. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Lineac 4 is tiny at a mere 90 metres long

      So, could possibly be mounted in the axis of a naval vessel, the sort with the power already in place for rail guns?

      Possibly (though I imagine operations consumes quite a bit of power) but why would you want to do that? Hard to imagine a less effective weapon than a few dozen protons, even if they *are* travelling at relativistic speeds. You wouldn't want to stick your head in the way, but it's not going to be any use as a weapon.

  6. Christopher Reeve's Horse
    Coat

    Upgrading a component in 2017

    Where are the RGB LED's???

    1. SimonC

      Re: Upgrading a component in 2017

      You'll be wanting the Enthusiast OC X-TREME Ti Version

      Personally I think this whole thing is gonna end up like the intro to the classic game Another World.

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Upgrading a component in 2017

        Nonsense, that was clearly a work of fiction. When have you seen anyone working at an accelerator own a Ferrari...?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Upgrading a component in 2017

          When have you seen anyone working at an accelerator own a Ferrari...

          lots!, the shift working machine operators at the PS & LEC, LHC used to earn a tidy sum for the complex job and the sometimes very long hours . . .plus if you had a diplomatic post (many grades offer this) then you could buy any car, and sometimes anything else, tax free.

          However, CERN staff, being sensible, did vote a few years ago for a decrease in their wages, in order to spend more on the LHC physics budget

        2. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: Upgrading a component in 2017

          Actually I have... and several Teslas. And Porsches. Patents and very generous grants/tenures are a fabulous thing.

  7. Gordon Pryra

    So whats that? 3 or 4 years?

    Till we either become a black hole or everything goes really weird and bubbly?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "mountain lair" ?

    A mountain lair cunningly disguised as a flat river valley. Cunning !

    https://www.google.nl/maps/place/European+Council+for+Nuclear+Research/@46.1152787,6.0460353,17356a,35y,37.48t/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x81bef3ae7a885e31!8m2!3d46.2353713!4d6.0490803

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: "mountain lair" ?

      It's something do do with Quantum.

  9. phy445

    Attempt at pedant of the day award

    Its linac not lineac.

  10. Chris G Silver badge

    Size isn't everything

    But if it helps to make the bullets more exotic,

    Its a good thing.

  11. Floydian Slip
    Mushroom

    Cern build a manufacturing plant

    So, Cern are about to test a device which will make

    1/ Their own mini-black hole

    2/ Their own Parallel Universe

    3/ A TARDIS

    4/ Something even more scary

    And why does Linac/Lineac remind me of Orac </just call me strange>

    1. Tom Paine Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Cern build a manufacturing plant

      Delighted to find this is still online, 20 years after I raided it to customise the Windows startup / shutdown sounds...

      http://debian.man.ac.uk/.f/pub/misc/blakes7/sounds/

      Little known fact: Avon demonstrates what is, in effect, Ssh tunnelling via Orac (on what looks like a beach in Essex) to Zen on board the Liberator at the start of S3E1.

      I would get out more, but I'm a sad bastard :)

  12. Alan Sharkey

    So why?

    Why do they add an extra electron and then remove them all. Why not skip the first step?

    1. GBE

      Re: So why?

      > Why do they add an extra electron and then remove them all. Why not skip the first step?

      Because you can use an electric/magnetic field to exert a force on an electrically charged atom (has the extra electron). If you don't add the extra electron, the atom is neutral, and won't be affected by the field in the accelerator. Once they've shoved it up to the desired speed, they remove the electrons because all they really want is the proton.

      Why they initially add an electron to start with H- instead of removing an electron and starting with H+ is another question...

      1. swm Bronze badge

        Re: So why?

        "Why do they add an extra electron and then remove them all. Why not skip the first step?"

        Because the main ring accelerates positively charged protons. It would be difficult to inject the protons from the linear accelerator as there would be no way to merge the trajectories. By using H- the trajectories are in opposite directions in a magnetic field and the two streams of particles can be merged by stripping off the two electrons where the two beams are (almost) tangent to one another.

  13. Sleep deprived
    Joke

    "... and its use of hydrogen protons"

    As opposed to heavier protons? Why start with ligther protons if it's to make them 5% heavier?

    1. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: "... and its use of hydrogen protons"

      Protium = 99.98% of the world's hydrogen. It contains one proton and one electron. It is arguably the simplest configuration. You could smash lead particles together (and there are experiments that do), but you would have to strip all those pesky neutrons out. It's easier to do with hydrogen. Nevermind the fact that hydrogen is... plentiful in the universe (and hence the experiments make sense).

    2. Sleep deprived
      Unhappy

      Re: "... and its use of hydrogen protons"

      Maybe downvoters should check icons...

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019