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Not with a bang, but with a whimper...


GENEVA (BNS): The world’s largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider that had a spectacular start September 10 has been halted at least for the next two months.

According to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), “During commissioning (without beam) of the final LHC sector (sector 34) at high current for operation at 5 TeV, an incident occurred at mid-day on Friday 19 September resulting in a large helium leak into the tunnel.”

“Preliminary investigations indicate that the most likely cause of the problem was a faulty electrical connection between two magnets, which probably melted at high current leading to mechanical failure. CERN ’s strict safety regulations ensured that at no time was there any risk to people, “ a statement explained.

According to the statement a full investigation is underway, but it is already clear that the sector will have to be warmed up for repairs to take place. This implies a minimum of two months down time for LHC operation. For the same fault, not uncommon in a normally conducting machine, the repair time would be a matter of days.

The LHC is the largest and most complex scientific instrument ever built and the highest energy particle accelerator in the world. The accelerator is located 100 m underground and runs through both French and Swiss territory.

The LHC switch on September 10 was a culmination of 20 years of work by physicists, engineers, technicians and support staff from over 80 different countries.

CERN is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. It has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. India, Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, Turkey, the European Commission and UNESCO have Observer status.


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