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The Sciences

The LHC Surpasses the Tevatron in Energy...But What About Power?

Cosmic VarianceBy John ConwayDecember 1, 2009 8:01 AM

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Today the LHC at CERN became the planet's highest-energy particle accelerator, surpassing the Tevatron by 20%. The LHC accelerated protons from the injection energy of 0.450 TeV (0.45 trillion electron volts) to 1.18 TeV; the Tevatron has collided protons and antiprotons with beam energies of 0.98 TeV . As early as Wednesday the LHC team plans to attempt the feat with beams circulating in both directions, and will then become the world's highest energy particle collider in the world. Now, let's see if the mainstream media can start to distinguish "power" from "energy"! After all, power is total energy per unit time. All you need to do to get more power is to put more particles into the machine...the Tevatron, by this measure, is still far more powerful, with many thousands of times more particles per beam. And there are much lower-energy machines with higher total beam power. In fact it will be a while before the LHC becomes "the world's most powerful accelerator". No worry, though! In the more subtle sense of the word the LHC will soon be the most powerful scientifically. (And with great power comes....yeah, yeah.) But seriously: with higher energy, which is what counts here, the LHC will be able to create new massive particles that the Tevatron simply cannot, and therefore begn to probe a new scientific realm. At that point, it will be powerful indeed. Can't wait!

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