Short-Circuit Stalls LHC's Powerful Restart
After being shut down for two years, a short-circuit has stalled the much-anticipated restart of CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the particle smashing machine that famously discovered the Higgs boson, officials announced Wednesday.
The error occurred last Saturday in one of the LHC's magnet circuits, and repairs may take weeks. Still, it's not the end of the world.
"All the signs are good for a great run 2," Rolf Heuer, Director General of CERN, said in a press release. "In the grand scheme of things, a few weeks delay in humankind's quest to understand our universe is little more than the blink of an eye."
Engineers at Europe's CERN, it seems, are positive that the weeks of delay will pay off, and so they are not planning to rush in fixing the machine. The second run is expected to operate at almost double the energy, and provide more insight on dark matter, the Higgs Boson, a possible extra dimension, and all the other wonders of the Universe.
However, until then, workers are hurrying to repair the "intermittent short circuit," which occurred on one of the eight sectors of the 27-kilometer underground tube. What makes the repair process so long is that the glitch is in a cold section of the machine, so before the LHC can reboot it has to be warmed up and then cooled back down to temperatures approaching absolute zero.
"Any cryogenic machine is a time amplifier," said CERN's Director for Accelerators, Frédérick Bordry, "so what would have taken hours in a warm machine could end up taking us weeks."
The LHC is the world's largest and most powerful particle collider, a ring-shaped tunnel in which two beams of protons are sent in opposite directions.
Powerful magnets bend the beams so that they collide at points around the track where four laboratories have clusters of sensors.
Some of the protons smash together, creating sub-atomic rubble that may hold clues to novel particles - such as the famous Higgs boson that was officially discovered in 2012.
The discovery of the Higgs boson - the particle that makes up all matter - verified the Standard Model, which predicted that particles gain mass by passing through a field that slows down their movement through the vacuum of space.
When the LHC is finally good as new and full operational, physicists hope to learn more about the fundamental building blocks of all matter, and the forces that control them. The LHC will run for another three years, from 2016-2018, and may lead to the next big discovery in the world of physics.
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