This is the word that best describes 10 September for all CERN personnel and surely also the outside world watching CERN through the eyes of the media. The unforgettable "3-2-1 BEAM!" of the LHC project leader, Lyn Evans, will stay in our memories forever.

This is the word that best describes 10 September for all CERN personnel and surely also the outside world watching CERN through the eyes of the media. The unforgettable "3-2-1 BEAM!" of the LHC project leader, Lyn Evans, will stay in our memories forever.

"It’s a fantastic moment," said LHC project leader Lyn Evans. "We can now look forward to a new era of understanding about the origins and evolution of the Universe."

Although every-body was hoping to see the first circulating beam at some point in the morning, very few expected that it would happen so smoothly. Obeying the laws of magnetism like a perfectly trained dog obeys his master, the beam went from sector to sector in less than an hour.

At 10:28, when the first beam was steered around the machine, the applause resonated loudly throughout the Main Auditorium. The explosion of joy and pride erupted simultaneously as all the conference rooms were connected via webcast to the CCC.

Around 15:00 another beam of protons circulated in the second – anticlockwise – ring. Again, this happened very smoothly. The little hiccup at the end of the morning, just demonstrated that the whole thing was real and not made up for the sake of the media sitting in the Globe!

"This accelerator is also unique in the way it has responded during these initial operations", says Paul Collier, the Operations Group Leader. "It’s amazing to see how quickly we’ve managed to establish a circulating beam in the machine. This is a tribute to the high quality of the manufacture and installation of the accelerator components as well as to the excellent controls and beam diagnostics. Since the LHC is its own prototype, this is the first time the whole machine has worked together. With something of this size and complexity some problems are to be expected. However, the rapid start for the machine is extremely gratifying".

All the experimental control rooms saw the first signals from the LHC and are eagerly awaiting the first collisions. The current schedule for the transition from first beam to collisions is a few weeks. The hope now is that this will go as smoothly as the first laps of the beam.

Congratulations from around the world

Below are extracts from a few of the many messages CERN has received from leading figures in countries across the world.

"The President of the French Republic, the current President of the European Union, is proud of this success and congratulates the European scientists that contributed."

Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French republic and President of the European Union

"The French Prime Minister sends his warmest congratulations to all the teams at CERN who have put into service the world’s biggest particle accelerator, the LHC."

François Fillon, Prime Minister of France

"The Directorate of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, the scientists and specialists of JINR would like to congratulate all the colleagues at CERN for the successful first step in starting operation of the LHC."

Alexei Sissakian, Director of JINR Dubna, Russia

"Congratulations to all of you for successful full turn injections and more this morning."

Satoshi Ozaki, Former Head of RHIC construction, Brookhaven National Laboratory, USA

"I would like to congratulate CERN, especially the LHC team, for the spectacularly smooth and successful start-up and first beam of the LHC."

Albrecht Wagner, Chairman of the Board of Directors, DESY, Germany

"A truly great day… well done everyone…"

Ken Peach, John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science, University of Oxford and Royal Holloway University of London, UK

"Congratulations to you and your entire team for this outstanding achievement."

Joël Mesot, Director of the Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland.

"I would like to use this occasion to congratulate all colleagues at CERN and in fact everyone involved in the LHC project which in itself is an excellent demonstration of cooperative scientific endeavour."

Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy, India

"I have been very much impressed with the achievement as planned and announced"

Akira Yamamoto for the KEK-LHC magnet development team, Japan

"I am pleased to congratulate all those who, worldwide and for several years, worked hard to achieve this fantastic result."

Bernard Marechal, EELA-2 Project Coordinator, CETA-CIEMAT, Spain

"I have just learned of the remarkable success of the first steps in the LHC start-up and I am proud that Europe is the driving force and location for this scientific and technological success."

Bernard Bigot, Haut Commissaire à l’Energie atomique, France

"It has been a great honour to participate in this monumental construction and we are happily looking forward to the discoveries that will be made with the help of this extraordinary machine."

Marek Jeżabek, Director General of Institute of Nuclear Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland