(Update: The LHC beam came full circle at last!)
The LHC first beam came and went. The LHC experiment itself is active right now, with about 3/8th of the ring active and 60,000 particles observed in one shot. Of course, it is set to increase to the full capacity eventually.
I am very proud to say that I have participated in the biggest scientific experiment ever undertaken by humanity no matter how indirect the method. Those of you out there who have not participated yet style yourselves supporters of science should hang your head in shame… Just kidding. Though you should really feel disappointed.
The main goals of the LHC experiment is put succinctly by Michael Sean Wright at his blog (which I happened to catch by chance).
Why did Matter triumph over Anti-Matter?
Why do particles have mass?
What is the nature Dark Matter?
What was the state of mass in the moments right after the Big Bang?
These are some of the questions entire cabals of scientists lose sleep over in their ceaseless pondering and amazement at the face of the universe in front of us. I am exhilarated to say the least. What will this experiment (the LHC experiment is, of course, a long term experiment. It is not about singular results obtainable over an experiment or two) teach us about the universe? What system of the world? I would have to be dead on the inside if such questions did not get my heart running!
McCain and Obama will be gone and done away with sooner or later. LHC experiments will remain with us so long as the human civilization thrives, perhaps changing the fundamental nature of how humanity sees the universe around themselves.
Here are some resources in case you are still interested in a bit of LHC first-beam catch up.
U.S. LHC blog.
LHC live blogging.
LHC webcast service (severely congested at the time of the first beam event. I had to switch to BBC livecast)