Get Your Physics Fun While It Lasts


They just restarted the LHC about a week ago and now they’re already announcing it needs to be shut down again. I bet that right about now they wish the could return it and get their $5 billion back. What a gigantic boondoggle. As I’ve said before, they should have had the Germans build it in the first place.

LHC to shut down for a year to address design faults

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) must close at the end of 2011 for up to a year to address design issues, according to an LHC director.

Dr Steve Myers told BBC News the faults will delay the machine reaching its full potential for two years.

The atom smasher will reach world record collision energies later this month at 7 trillion electron volts.

But joints between the machine’s magnets must be strengthened before higher-energy collisions can commence.

The Geneva-based machine only recently restarted after being out of action for 14 months following an accident in September 2008.

Dr Myers said: “It’s something that, with a lot more resources and with a lot more manpower and quality control, possibly could have been avoided but I have difficulty in thinking that this is something that was a design error.”

He said: “The standard phrase is that the LHC is its own prototype. We are pushing technologies towards their limits.”

“You don’t hear about the thousands or hundreds of thousands of other areas that have gone incredibly well.

“With a machine like the LHC, you only build one and you only build it once.”

He said the second problem is not with the most complex technology but involves the copper sheaths around the superconducting joints in the tunnel.

The copper sheaths are a failsafe mechanism designed to take up the current if one of the magnets in the Large Hadron Collider warms up – an incident known as a “quench”.

The 2008 accident caused one tonne of helium to leak into the tunnel and resulted in a series of “quenches” and a 40m Swiss franc (£24m) repair bill.

Engineers believe the machine is now safe to run at 7 trillion electron volts (TeV) but are anxious to avoid another breakdown.

So they have taken the decision to run the machine for 18 to 24 months at half-maximum power before switching it off for a year to carry out improvements to the 27km tunnel.

Dr Myers said the decision was taken jointly with the physicists working on the four giant particle detectors on the LHC.

He said they appreciate the chance to test their own equipment while the machine is running at half its maximum power.

See also:
Large Hadron Collider to close for a year for refit and repairs
Large Hadron Collider ‘to shut down for a year’
Hadron Collider to be closed amid fears of a very big bang
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, world’s largest atom-smasher, needs to be shut down for repairs
Large Hadron Collider will finally reach full power in 2013… eight years behind schedule
Collider to shut down at end of 2011
Large Hadron Collider shutdown planned
Large Hadron Collider to shut down, not baguette this time
Scientists rubbish stories about LHC shutdown over safety concerns
Woman, fearing apocalypse, tries to halt collider
Woman fails to shut down Large Hadron Collider
Here We Go Again

As they say, measure twice, cut once.

/on the bright side, at least while it’s shut down again, they won’t have to pay the ridiculously high electric bill for all the vast amounts of power that the LHC sucks down while in operation

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