Beam! Magic!

Beam! Magic!
November 19, 2011

For the past 6 months or so, we have paused operations of the accelerator, even of both accelerators, in order to concentrate on some vital 12 GeV Upgrade project preparatory and installation work for the 12 GeV Upgrade project. This has involved everything from Low Conductivity Water Systems to civil construction, and has involved almost every piece of our organization. We have worked hard, we have worked well. We have achieved a lot and, in the main, we have done it safely. In fact, we have exceeded all expectations. So, we have lots to be proud of.

But this week sees the capstone. This week we are seeing beam! Apparently, even with all the changes, the accelerator can be made to work. Beam!

Since my first serious introduction to nuclear and particle physics - when I worked for a few weeks one summer at Rutherford Laboratory helping a nuclear physicist from Manchester take data on the 50 MeV PLA (Proton Linear Accelerator) - beam has been for me a magic.

1965: As a postgraduate student, doing research in the experimental area at Daresbury, where the search involved pressing button pairs simultaneously in different parts of the experimental area so as to make the sweep of the area rigorous, we, including faculty members, would run from button to button so as not to waste the precious beam.

1976: The beam of deuterons colliding with protons in the CERN Intersecting Storage Rings - 26 GeV on 26 GeV. Spokesman Hans Sens on shift, Franco Bonaudi from the machine making a tour of the experiments. A peak in the spectrum at 26 GeV? Clear, elastic scattering. A peak at 13 GeV??? Oh yes, the deuteron is a neutron plus a proton! We are seeing the protons, an immediate demonstration of compositeness. Magic!

1978: The SPS (Super Proton Synchrotron) expanded to start operations to the north experimental area. First beam on T6, the external target, to produce the pions, which in turn decay to produce the muons for the beam to the European Muon Collaboration experiment. The calorimeter for which I was responsible was working that evening, so I saw the first impacts through the muons which were produced and travelled - who knows through what - the couple of kilometers to the experiment. Quick multi-channel analyzer spectrum and off to the Main Control Room for champagne! Magic!

1992: At Fermilab, the Dzero detector rolls into the experimental hall on Valentine’s Day. One evening in May, we see first collisions with the detector. Magic!

2011: Jefferson Lab, November 18, 7:45 a.m. Meeting: discussions about what is happening with the machine and the experiments in Halls B and C. Concerns on several fronts, but it’s coming together. On to the 8 a.m. meeting, review of the past day of running and preparations from the machine … and from the experimentalists: “If you send beam, we will use it!” The Program Deputy points to the whiteboard. It looks good.

2011: November 19, 8 a.m., Physics! Beam! Magic!