OK, to be fair, two rounds of electrical failures did get things off to a rough start. But, in the end, time-traveling particles weren't enough to stop the LHC from finally doing what it was built to do. A little after 1 p.m. Geneva time, the Large Hadron Collider pushed protons to 99 percent of the speed of light and then, well, collided them. It's a big step, but it's not the ultimate goal.
The success in colliding protons marks a remarkable comeback for CERN, but the lab is still only halfway back to where it wanted to be: Only a year and a half ago, the first attempt to start the collider ended with an explosion that left part of its tunnel enveloped in frigid helium gas and soot when an electrical connection between two of the powerful magnets that steer the protons vaporized. A subsequent investigation revealed that the collider is riddled with thousands of such joints, the result of what Lucio Rossi, head of magnets at CERN, said stemmed from a "lack of adequate risk analysis" in a recent report in the online journal Superconductor Science and Technology.
As a result, the collider, which was designed to accelerate protons to 7 trillion electron volts and then smash them together to reveal particles and forces that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of time as we know it, can only be safely run for now at half power. CERN physicists say that operating the collider for a year and a half at this energy level should allow them to gather enough data to start catching up with its American rival, the trillion-volt Tevatron at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, which is smaller but has been running for years and thus has a head start in data. After that, the CERN machine will shut down for a year so that the connections can be rebuilt.
In other words, don't expect the secrets of the universe to be revealed this week.
New York Times, Large Hadron Collider Finally Smashing Properly
Watch physicists get happy in footage recorded during the first collisions last night (from the North American perspective)