The slings and arrows of LHC restart schedules

We should now have been celebrating the first circulating beams of LHC Run 2, but, as I reported last Tuesday, I find myself instead having to write about a delay in proceedings. Against a backdrop of great progress in the powering tests for running at 6.5 TeV, a short to ground in one of the LHC’s thousands of circuits became apparent on 21 March.


Although a simple job to repair, it is compounded by the fact that the short is in a cold section of the machine, and it might therefore require a few weeks to warm up, carry out the repair and cool down again. Nevertheless, all the signs are good for a great Run 2, and in the grand scheme of things, a delay of weeks in humankind’s quest to understand our universe is little more than the blink of an eye. The impact of the delay on the experiments will be minimal, as 2015 was always foreseen as a year for preparing the upgraded machine for full-scale physics running in 2016-2018.

When the LHC’s first run got underway – five years ago to the day, on 30 March 2010 – I found myself quoting from Hamlet: it was, I said, the “to be or not to be” moment for the Higgs. Little did I think I’d be revisiting that same soliloquy as Run 2 gets under way, but like everything else in life, LHC restart schedules are subject to the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” and that’s where we find ourselves this week. LHC Run 2 will undoubtedly deliver, but we’ll need a little more patience before we get under way.

Other news comes from Washington, D.C., where some 340 physicists assembled for the 2015 Future Circular Collider (FCC) collaboration meeting. Fifty-one institutes from 19 countries are now signed up to the FCC study, and the discussions in Washington showed a remarkable unity of vision from around the world regarding the direction that particle physics should take over the coming decades. As I’ve said before, this is clear in the way that the European Strategy and the US P5 report align, though it was also particularly apparent through the presence of scientists from many Asian countries. Although Asia does not have the equivalent of a European Strategy or P5 process, it’s clear that the particle physics community shares a global vision for a shared future, of which the FCC study is an important element for all of us.

Back here at CERN, as I’ve often stressed, the remarkable achievements made during Run 1, during LS1 and during the preparations for Run 2 would never have been possible without the exceptional dedication and high quality work of all CERN staff, users and contractors. Our governing body, the Council, is also well aware of the dedication and professionalism of everyone here at CERN and always praises your work. However, the difficult recent discussions at the Council, concentrating in particular on pensions but also on benefits in general, give a different impression at present and might even be a cause of demotivation. In this respect, I can assure you that extensive discussions will be taking place on these matters between the Management and the Council in the coming months with a view to ensuring CERN's continued success.

To end on a high note, it was 50 years ago this month that the CERN Bulletin first appeared. I don’t know if this constitutes a record for an internal newsletter, but it’s certainly an achievement worthy of note. So I’d like to end this message by saying: ‘Happy birthday, Bulletin!’

Rolf Heuer