Large Hadron Collider Restart Delayed Until September

February 10, 2009

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) won't be restarted until late 2009 because repairs to an electrical glitch that occurred last fall are taking longer than expected.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which operates the machine, had initially said the soonest the LHC could resume operations was the spring of 2009. That deadline was later revised to July 2009.

Yesterday CERN confirmed that the first beams of particles will be sent at the end of September, followed by the first collisions in late October.

After a brief winter shutdown, the LHC will start running its planned experiments next year, generating data until the fall of 2010.

CERN officials cite upgrades to safety protocols and issues scheduling helium transport for the extra delay.

Meanwhile, inspections have turned up two more faulty electrical connections like the one that caused last year's accident, although those repairs are not a factor in the delay, said CERN spokesperson James Gillies.

"We can do these repairs in the shadow of other ongoing work," Gillies said.

Poor Soldering

LHC operators successfully fired the first beam of particles around the collider's 17-mile (27-kilometer) circular track last September.

But shortly afterward, poor soldering work on a so-called splice joint linking two of the LHC's magnets created an electrical overload.

The glitch caused tons of supercooled helium to leak into the underground tunnel and damage sensitive equipment.

Since the meltdown, engineers have developed new diagnostic techniques to prevent similar disasters from occurring.

Continued on Next Page >>


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