We are all getting anxious for particle collisions (see here and here).
I know the time must be getting near since I have recently received a few emails about parties to celebrate the start-up. There will be one for ATLAS October 4, and one for the LHC the evening of October 21. That one follows the VVIP CERN event earlier in the day.
But we still don’t know exactly when we will have beam in the LHC. The last update I saw said that there won’t be circulating beam in the LHC before September. Collisions are expected to be 1-2 months behind that. The LHC will shut down for the winter in December. So it is getting tight, but even a few weeks of collision data this year will keep us busy for a while as we can use the data to calibrate the detector, and find and fix problems.
The next big clue as to when we will see protons will be when the experiments are given the official 4-week notice. Then we will know exactly when beam will come to ATLAS. That will also trigger ATLAS to start staffing the control room 24 hours a day (overnight shifts, here we come!). Right now we are only taking shifts during the day and evening, mainly on the weekends.
Speaking of shifts, here is a picture of the online shift booking system: