The Large Hadron Collider — the biggest experiment in particle physics — will start in earnest on 10 September, according to officials at the European laboratory CERN. The officials say that on this date engineers will make the first attempt to circulate proton beams around the 27 km-long accelerator.

With all eight sectors of the LHC now cooled to 1.9 K, the first proton beam will be injected in the clockwise direction this weekend. The test will involve synchronising the LHC with the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS), the final stage of the accelerator’s injector chain from which high-intensity proton beams are injected into the LHC ring.

Tests will continue until early September with engineers also testing proton injection in the anti-clockwise direction.

Assuming there are no major glitches, CERN is gearing up for first full circulation of protons on 10 September when they will be injected with an energy of 450 GeV. Once this has been established, the two proton beams will be made to collide, and the final step of the LHC commissioning — accelerating the protons to 5 TeV per beam — will begin.