Last week I blogged about the many problems the LHC has encountered in the few days after the scientists at CERN turned it on. Though I’m sure it was a little more complicated that just flicking a switch in the “ON” position.
There has been a transformer failure, a computer security breach and a magnet failure. None of which sound very hard to fix, but we’re talking about the most complex piece of engineering man has ever endeavoured to create. It’s not as easy as switching out a transformer, magnet and turning on Windows Firewall.
Earlier this week, CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research, originally Centre Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) sent out a press release that details that repairs will put the LHC offline until at least April 2009.
The reason for this is that, in order to investigate and repair a faulty connection between two of the accelerator’s magnets, that section has to be brought down to room temperature. This process takes between three and four weeks. This removes the possibility of a restart before CERN’s obligatory winter maintenance period. All of this brings it into a full restart by “early spring 2009”.
General Robert Aymar, CERN Director weighed in:
“Coming immediately after the very successful start of LHC operation on 10 September, this is undoubtedly a psychological blow,” said CERN Director General Robert Aymar. “Nevertheless, the success of the LHC’s first operation with beam is testimony to years of painstaking preparation and the skill of the teams involved in building and running CERN’s accelerator complex. I have no doubt that we will overcome this setback with the same degree of rigour and application.”
This is an unfortunate setback for everyone curious to find out what discoveries and observations the LHC will bring to the scientific community, and to the entire world. The LHC may enable us to find out the timeline of the Big Bang within mere fractions of seconds after its formation. And could also finally let us observe the Higgs boson, he only Standard Model particle not yet observed.
But of course this comes as a relief to all the people predicting the LHC to bring about the end of the world. So rest easy people, and remove your tin-foil hats, store them for a few months. Move down to the southern hemisphere and enjoy the upcoming summer while watching the Australian Kiwis and the South American Emus.