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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RE: better safe than sorry
By DopeFishhh on 8/11/2009 12:50:08 AM , Rating: 3
I remember reading an article about a scientist who working on the problem of how to deal with a black hole if it was actually created in the LHC.

His suggestion was that firing charged particles (electrons probably) into it would make it negatively charged, then surround it in a similarly negatively charged enclosure to prevent it from touching the sides. Then you fire it off into space.

RE: better safe than sorry
By camylarde on 8/11/2009 4:51:47 AM , Rating: 2
Assuming you know where exactly the black minihole is. Hitting such a small thing with particle beam must be either

A) hard like hell - then its ok, cause the hole is not interacting with the environment (much)
B) easy - then were doomed, cause it surely has started to suck up matter already, is growing and it probably is too late to act.

RE: better safe than sorry
By MrPoletski on 8/12/2009 4:21:28 AM , Rating: 2
Fortunately, the very theory that predicts the possibility (not certainty) of a black hole forming in the LHC also predicts that the black hole would instantly evaporate in a few femtoseconds.

sorry to spoil everyones speculative psuedo science fun;)

(and speculative psuedo science IS fun as well as a nicely overcomplicated term)

RE: better safe than sorry
By HotFoot on 8/11/2009 10:02:54 AM , Rating: 2
If you can possibly interact with a charged particle inside a black hole via electromagnetic force, then you've violated the whole event horizon principle.

Curious, even, that gravity itself escapes the event horizon. I don't know how this could be explained by any gravity-transmitting particle (graviton?) theory.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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