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Realistic initial timeline for LHC

  1. Dec 1, 2009 #1
    What is a realistic timeline for the LHC initial experiments?
    ie. with a machine this massive and complicated, how long does it take experimenters to get to know the detector and backgrounds (I've heard many a theorist complain about how the experimentalists still don't use next-to-leading-order calculations that have been around for years, and that they probably won't be able to get away with this anymore when the LHC gets going).

    Am I right to assume their first detector experiments with actual beam collisions (instead of cosmic ray data) will be just to 'rediscover' electroweak physics data?

    All mainstream media reports make it sound like they flip a switch and they'll start looking for the Higgs. This clearly can not be the case.

    I guess my question comes down to something like this: Let's, for the sake of discussion, say that there is a standard model Higgs and it is currently just below threshold at the Tevatron. How long before the LHC would be ready to actually look for this Higgs? And then how long before it had enough statistics to surpass the Tevatron?

    (For comparision, how long after the Tevatron startup before they were able to start confidently investigating new physics?)
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2009 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Well, the first LHC paper was accepted for publication a few hours ago. This was based on pilot collisions 8 days ago.

    But in general, you're right - the experiments will be working on SM physics early on, until they accumulate enough data to make searches sensible. This is a few months in the most favorable cases and more than a year in the less favorable cases.
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