Robert Aymar, the director-general of CERN, has said that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — the world’s biggest particle physics experiment — will be in “working order” by the end of June, according to the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP).
It is not clear what Aymar means by this, given that the last announcement from CERN was for a July start-up. It seems unlikely that LHC has raced ahead of schedule, so it might be that he thinks the cooling of the magnets will be complete by the end of June. However, the status report on the LHC website would indicate otherwise.
I spoke to a press officer at CERN, and she said that the AFP journalists quoted Aymar from a recent meeting they had at the European lab. She said that, as far as she is aware, the beam commissioning is still set to take place in July.
I have not yet spoken to James Gillies, the chief spokesperson for CERN, because he is tied up in meetings all day. When he gets back to me, I will give you an update.
UPDATE 3.15pm: I have just spoken to Gillies and he said that there is no change to the start-up schedule — the plan is still to begin injecting beams towards the end of July. Aymar was indeed referring to the cooling of the magnets, which should be complete by the end of June. Four of the eight sectors have already been cooled to their operating temperature of 1.9 K; the last (sector 4–5) began the cooling process today.
The reason for the gap between the cooling and beam-injection is that there must be a series of electrical tests, which will take around four weeks.