Print 93 comment(s) - last by Technomage.. on Aug 12 at 12:49 PM

LHC will only operate at half power to try to detect problems earlier

The Large Hadron Collider may usher in a new era of particle physics as the world's most powerful particle accelerator.  However, the LHC has also been the victim of numerous delays, ever since its launch last September failed. 

At launch an electrical fault between two of the magnets reportedly caused an arc of electricity, which in turn triggered a helium leak and explosion.  As a result, the proton tube was contaminated with soot, and the magnets were broken off from their mountings.  Months of repairs revealed more leaks in the vacuum of the insulating layer surrounding the proton tube.

Now the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN has declared that the repairs are done.  States CERN in a press release, "[Tests] will initially run at an energy of 3.5 TeV per beam when it starts up in November this year.  This news comes after all tests on the machine's high-current electrical connections were completed last week [the week of July 27], indicating that no further repairs are necessary for safe running."

Still, the restart represents caution on CERN's part -- 3.5 TeV is only half of the beam's full intended operational power.  States CERN Director General Rolf Heuer, "We've selected 3.5 TeV to start because it allows the LHC operators to gain experience [with] running the machine safely while opening up a new discovery region for the experiments."

There remain concerns about whether the device is capable of running at full power.  Describes CERN:

Following the incident of [Sept. 19, 2008] that brought the LHC to a standstill [due to a faulty magnet connection], testing has focused on the 10,000 high-current superconducting electrical connections like the one that led to the fault. These consist of two parts: the superconductor itself, and a copper stabilizer that carries the current in case the superconductor warms up and stops superconducting, a so-called quench. In their normal superconducting state, there is negligible electrical resistance across these connections, but in a small number of cases abnormally high resistances have been found in the superconductor. These have been repaired. However, there remain a number of cases where the resistance in the copper stabilizer connections is higher than it should be for running at full energy.

However, CERN also says that it has tested and repaired a large number of these faulty copper connections.  It says that the final two sectors it tested revealed no abnormalities.  Nonetheless, after all the headaches, it plans to throttle up the 17-mile long accelerator loop slowly, just in case there's still undetected problems.

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By MrBlastman on 8/10/2009 12:17:19 PM , Rating: 2
If the repairs are complete, why wait until November. Lets fire this thing up now so they have even more time to test it before their "European" Winter vacation. :-|

Scientists around the world are waiting for the data, and willing to accept a headcrab or two in the name of science. After all, only one or two are acceptable anomalies in the name of Science. ;)

Seriously though, if it really is complete, what is the point in waiting any further. They only have a limited amount of time before winter comes and the inevitable shutdown. I think a whole year of setbacks is enough - that is, if it really has been completely repaired.

RE: Excellent.
By Adul on 8/10/2009 12:22:25 PM , Rating: 3
because it takes a long time to properly cool the tube down with liquid helium. A couple months from what I remember.

RE: Excellent.
By MrBlastman on 8/10/2009 12:28:15 PM , Rating: 2
True. The article didn't mention whether it was cooled yet or not. Still though... August, September, October.. There's some extra time in there that it won't be cooling.

RE: Excellent.
By invidious on 8/10/2009 12:45:21 PM , Rating: 5
Today is 8-10-09, 3 months from now would be 11-10-09, well into november. Where are you seeing extra time?

RE: Excellent.
By MrBlastman on 8/10/2009 1:34:20 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, it takes far less time than two months to cool it.

In the above link, they mention it will take two full months to initiate repairs, which, during that time, they would warm the collider and then cool it back down again.

So, the two months is bunk. I would wager it takes 3-4 weeks to cool the thing. That is 1 1/2 months of it doing nothing.

RE: Excellent.
By ClownPuncher on 8/10/2009 3:07:24 PM , Rating: 2
Where did you get your info that they will just be doing nothing for that time? Are you thinking they started a volleyball team or something? Or was it just an opportunity to rag on some of the best scientists the world currently has to offer?

RE: Excellent.
By MrBlastman on 8/10/2009 3:20:35 PM , Rating: 2
It was not at all intended to rag on the scientists per say, but more to nail down the point that they are delaying progress by taking the Winter off. Power bills be darned at this point. Soo, lets get to atom smashing asap. :)

Starting up in November is - well, starting up in November. That means we can safely say they won't be starting it up in October, September or August, right? They might start cooling it, but they won't be smashing atoms.

RE: Excellent.
By MrBlastman on 8/10/2009 3:21:17 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and correction to my verbage - they are going to be smashing particles, not atoms.

RE: Excellent.
By MrPoletski on 8/11/2009 5:27:42 AM , Rating: 2
They almost certainly, and rightly, want to perform additional tests on the equipment after it's cooled and before firing it up, this will take time.

RE: Excellent.
By Snow01 on 8/10/2009 12:51:01 PM , Rating: 2
I seem to remember reading somewhere that it will typically run during the winter months as it will be easier to keep at its low operating temperature, and will be cheaper to do so as well.

RE: Excellent.
By Hare on 8/10/2009 1:40:04 PM , Rating: 4
I seem to remember reading somewhere that it will typically run during the winter months as it will be easier to keep at its low operating temperature, and will be cheaper to do so as well.

When you are dealing with extreme temperatures it doesn't make much difference if it's winter or summer on the surface (they operate below ground). Actually I've read that they do not operate during winter mainly due to electricity being a lot more expensive (>double).

RE: Excellent.
By Zingam on 8/10/09, Rating: -1
RE: Excellent.
By MrBlastman on 8/10/2009 1:07:04 PM , Rating: 5
Cthulhu wants to have a chat with your virgin body... ;)

RE: Excellent.
By Danish1 on 8/10/2009 1:45:24 PM , Rating: 2
I think creating a Mayan God of War to wreck havoc on earth is beyond even a large haldron collider.

but I could be wrong I guess.

RE: Excellent.
By Iaiken on 8/10/2009 2:16:30 PM , Rating: 4
In the off chance that you are not just being daffy:

The Mayan's base-20 math system was capable of calculating out well beyond December, 2012. There were numerous times where dates were found far beyond the scope of the supposed doomsday. These included a date roughly 41,341,050x10^21 in the future.

In reality, it is almost certainly a case of parsimony where the Mayan mathematicians simply didn't see a reason to include the leading zero on their date. Think about it this way, the time span from to would have taken them from August 3114 BC to December 2012 AD. It is only logical to think that, had their society managed to survive to 2012, they would simply roll over to the next significant digit(or

The dissemination of the 2012 doomsday message has been a matter of commercial success for many people looking to cash in on this clever bit of fiction (I'm looking at you New Age!). More likely than not, we'll see nothing but a rise in 2012 stupidity as the day grows near and passes just as Y2K did and numerous other predicted end days.

It will come, and it will pass and those who capitalized on fear will count their royalty cheques and move on.

RE: Excellent.
By Ammohunt on 8/10/2009 2:36:57 PM , Rating: 4
My understanding is that the 2012 date on the mayan calendar was to signal an end to an age not the world but i may be wrong. Don't get your hopes up for a quick end to the world if it does happen it will be gradual over a period of years(like 8;starting january 20th 2009)

RE: Excellent.
By lco45 on 8/10/2009 7:45:00 PM , Rating: 4
What everyone seems to forget is that the Mayans were primitive screwheads, to use Ash's immortal phrase.


RE: Excellent.
By FaaR on 8/11/2009 6:16:57 PM , Rating: 2
They were certainly less primitive in many ways than the screwhead conquistador robbers and thieves that landed on their shores and brought about the end of their civilization.

RE: Excellent.
By lco45 on 8/11/2009 9:42:19 PM , Rating: 2
The Mayans were orders of magnitude more primitive than the Spaniards.

Their mathematics was almost childishly trivial compared to the greeks of thousands of years earlier. The Spaniards had universities, embassies, factories, metallurgy, pack animals, chemists, global trade routes, small arms and artillery, the list goes on.

The Mayans were just as intelligent as anyone else, but were handicapped by being out in the middle of nowhere, away from the exchange of ideas in Europe, North Africa and Asia.

It was a shame they were run over by the Spaniards, although their civilization had been in decline for hundreds of years before the Spanish arrived.


RE: Excellent.
By MrPoletski on 8/11/2009 5:32:00 AM , Rating: 2
well we are approaching the end of the industrial age...

not sure what you'd call the age we are entering now, but we are moving away from oil (albeit slowly) and towards more sustainable sources.

The fact that mankind has said 'we need a sustainable source of fuel/energy/food' is great, I think it's the first time in our history we have ever said it - or at least ever said it and actually started doing something about it.

RE: Excellent.
By Ammohunt on 8/11/2009 10:57:36 PM , Rating: 2
The industrial age ending along time ago we have been in the information age for quite some time.

RE: Excellent.
By invidious on 8/10/2009 5:49:24 PM , Rating: 2
A convinient position to defend, if you are wrong no one will be around to say they told you so.

RE: Excellent.
By Iaiken on 8/11/2009 10:41:20 AM , Rating: 2
You can argue for arguments sake.

I was simply pointing out the most logical conclusion to the question. I could also offer up millions of increasingly absurd conclusions; but based on our knowledge of their number system and the math behind it, it be a waste of time.

To go back to the rule of parsimony, the simplest answer is most likely the correct one... The notion that the Mayans could forecast the end of the world is incredibly complicated and introduces unanswerable questions...

If you really do buy into it, I would suggest that you live according to Carpe Diem so that if the world ends tomorrow, you won't miss it. :P

RE: Excellent.
By otispunkmeyer on 8/10/2009 5:33:02 PM , Rating: 2
because the experiment has cost at least $6bn ... you dont wanna have it blow up in your face when you turn it on. you want it to work...that takes massive amounts of prep work.

im suprised they got this far to be honest... that thing is insanely complex

RE: Excellent.
By MrPoletski on 8/11/2009 5:33:32 AM , Rating: 2
im suprised they got this far to be honest... that thing is insanely complex

That's what they said about the moon landings, about the computer... hell probably about the wheel thousands of years ago..

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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