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Large Hadron Collider reached ‘cruising speed’

The Large Hadron Collider has reached a data production rate 4 million times higher this year than in 2010.

“At the end of this [second] year’s proton running, the LHC is reaching cruising speed,” said Steve Myers, director for accelerators and technology at the European particle physics lab Cern in Geneva, Switzerland, the LHC’s home.

“To put things in context, the present data production rate is a factor of 4 million higher than in the first run in 2010 and a factor of 30 higher than at the beginning of 2011,” Myers added.

The LHC’s 2011 run of proton/proton collisions came to an end on 30 October, having exceeded its objectives, Cern says. Scientists will now analyse the data from LHC experiments.

“We’ve got from the LHC the amount of data we dreamt of at the beginning of the year and our results are putting the Standard Model of particle physics through a very tough test,” said LHC spokesman Pierluigi Campana.

The LHC will now run four weeks of lead-ion collisions, and test proton/lead-ion collisions.

“Smashing lead ions together allows us to produce and study tiny pieces of primordial soup,” said Paologo Giubellino, spokesman of the Alice experiment. “But as any good cook will tell you, to understand a recipe fully, it’s vital to understand the ingredients, and in the case of quark-gluon plasma, this is what proton-lead ion collisions could bring.”