Nine days after the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) turned on its proton beam for the first time, the LHC needed to be turned off. Over the weekend the agency running the Collider announced that an accident damaged the magnets that guide the beam, putting the LHC out of commission for at least two months as scientists work to repair the equipment.
According to CERN, the organization that manages the LHC, a coolant line ruptured midday on Friday September 19th while scientists conducted a test to ensure the components were working properly. The accident damaged a magnet and resulted in coolant leaking into the final section of the 17-mile long tunnel that houses the LHC. An early investigation by CERN revealed that faulty wiring between two giant magnets melted while testing the magnets performance at high voltage, causing the mechanical failure of the coolant line.
The super conducting magnets of the LHC conduct the proton beam around the track and into the collisions that the scientists will study. To function properly, the magnets need to be kept near absolute zero, the theoretical lowest possible temperature where the random vibration of atoms comes to a halt. To keep the magnets that cold, lines of liquid helium 1.9 degrees C warmer than absolute zero run through the magnetic tubes. The extreme cold needed for the experiment also contributes to the length of the repair time, as it takes weeks to heat the elements enough to be replaced, and will take another couple of weeks to cool them down again to such a low temperature.
However according to James Gillies, a spokesperson for CERN, the accident won't delay all of the work at the LHC. ""There won't be people sitting around twiddling their thumbs during this time," said Gillies, adding that what work will be conducted during the down time has yet to be decided.
UPDATE: Apparently the damage to the LHC was more extensive than previously reported by CERN. The facility will now be shut down for a year, not 2 months, according to reports released September 23,2008.
Its just another problem. They have gone too far to stop on this minor problem.
Wouldn't it have been much more productive to spend the money used to build this white elephant on something really productive. Improving world health, hunger, new energy sources to name just a few good uses for it. Why can't you over educated people just accept the fact that this universe is the way it is because it is the way God made it. I guess that explanation is just too simple so you have to make a really complicated one. The question I would like answered is of what practical use is the information gathered from these experiments. Will it make anything work any better or the world run smoother? Stuart D Hardee
Shardee, go read the article called "In Defense of the LHC" it may explain some of your questions. In regards to the article, of course their going to run into trouble with this thing, its the first of its size and magnitude. The first of anything always has flaws. They will fix it however, and life will go on.
People will always impede progress of the abstract in the name of liberal beliefs when the entire point is to accomplish the actual means for doing exactly what they propose.
Tough break for the LHC!
In response to Shardee's comment, "because it is the way God made it..." I feel compelled to say that this explanation, with the deepest respect for Shardee, is of no actual value to me. This approach to the world gives me no understanding of the Universe in which I find myself and it does not help me progress towards a better future in any way.
The thirst for knowledge is shared around the world which is why even small children in remote African villages still want to go to school everyday when one could argue, using the same logic, why bother??
I WANT to know why and where we are in the Universe because I am a human being; I am not a rabbit who only cares about eating, pooping and you know what (I have two rabbits) -- I am a human and IF there is a G_d SHE would want me know this truth about the Universe! If there is a G_d it occurs to me that maybe SHE wants us to achieve this goal which is why SHE gave us this ability to think and reason in the first place...
In fact, I am an advocate for helping the poor and I am active in trying to make the plight of the homeless and those less fortunate than myself better but none of my activities and donations will make any difference to the LHC -- in other words, solving the world's problems needs to be done by each of us acting and doing not critiquing the LHC.
Whether we financially support the LHC (less than the cost of three U.S. Stealth Bombers and BTW the U.S. doesn't have a nickel in the LHC to my knowledge) will have zero, nada, none difference to ending suffering in the world BUT the enlightened understanding that will come as a result of this project may very well do it!
Maybe starting with the Obama administration [as a Canadian I am so proud of you America...] we could begin to treat each other like G_d and maybe we can simply understand that Science is the tool we were given to work with -- don't worry about the LHC it's part of HER plan...
[As an Atheist the last part was hard to write but I figured I'd work with the question - please forgive Richard Dawkins...]