Geneva, 24 June 2011. At its 159th session this week, the CERN Council congratulated CERN on the excellent performance of the LHC, and welcomed the news that formal confirmation has been received the five countries applying for CERN Membership.
By 17 June, the LHC had delivered what is known as one inverse femtobarn of data to the experiments. To put that in context, one inverse femtobarn was the target for the whole 2011 run, with five to ten the target for 2011 and 2012 combined. Ten inverse femtobarns is sufficient to explore the potential for new physics emerging with the LHC running at 3.5TeV per beam, and to definitively confirm or refute the existence of the Higgs particle.
"A year ago, I thought the delivery of an inverse femtobarn in 2011 was an ambitious target," said Michel Spiro, President of CERN Council. "Now the machine is delivering in a single 12 hour fill the same amount of data that was delivered in the whole 2010 run. It's a great achievement to get this complex machine up to speed so quickly."
The importance of this for the LHC research programme in substantial. While the data recorded so far are unlikely to be sufficient to reveal unambiguous signals of important new physics for the summer conferences this year, they will be enough to home in significantly on phenomena such as supersymmetry and the Higgs mechanism.
"We're definitely getting close to new physics at the LHC," said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer, "and whether it's supersymmetry, Higgs or none of the above, our understanding of the universe is about to change."
In another important development, the Director General informed Council that the five countries (Cyprus, Israel, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey) applying for membership have all formally confirmed their wish to become members, opening the way to CERN welcoming new Member States in the near future.
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1. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Romania is a candidate for accession. India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have Observer status.