Repair work for Big bang machine hit by huge bill

December 6th, 2008 - 12:30 pm ICT by ANI  

Large Hadron Collider

London, Dec 6 (ANI): The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has determined that repairing the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which has been built to simulate the big bang, could cost up to 35 million Swiss francs (20 million pounds or 29 million dollars).

Repairs will cost 15 million Swiss francs, and spare parts another 10-20 million Swiss francs, said CERN spokesman James Gillies.

According to a report in New Scientist, the announcement comes in the same week an internal report revealed that the planned spring start-up wont now happen until late July 2009 at the earliest.

The massive collider, the largest and most complex machine ever made, has already cost 5.7 billion dollars (8 billion dollars) - cash which came from CERNs 20 European member states, as well as other nations including the United States and Russia.

We will not be going to our member states asking for more money, we will deal with it within the current CERN budget, Gillies said.

The news about the huge repair bill comes less than three months after the worlds most complex machine was switched on and produced its first images.

Its massive detectors were designed to listen out for never-before-seen particles produced when two beams of protons collide at near light speed.

Those collisions are intended to recreate conditions just after the big bang, some 13.7 billion years ago.

The accelerator will create higher energies than any accelerator before, which some physicists think will flush out the so-called God particle, the Higgs-Boson.

At the much-hyped September switch on, beams were fired through the complete 27-km (17-mile) underground tunnel.

But, just nine days later, an electrical fault broke a hole in a tank containing liquid helium. It quickly vaporised, causing a burst of pressure that damaged nearby equipment.

According to Gillies, helium leak caused quite considerable mechanical damage to the accelerator.

Repairing it will require 53 of the 57 magnets in the colliders tunnel, buried under the Swiss-French border near Geneva, to be removed and then reinstalled.

Some 28 have already been removed, and all the magnets should be back in place by the end of March, Gillies said.

CERN now expects the machine to be powered up again for tests by June, after which particle beams can be sent around again. (ANI)

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