World’s largest particle collider suffers setback

September 21st, 2008 - 8:29 am ICT by IANS  

Geneva, Sep 21 (Xinhua) The world’s most powerful particle collider built for the multi-billion dollar ‘Big Bang’ experiment to unearth the secrets of cosmos has suffered a new problem and will be out of action for at least two months, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has said.CERN, the operator of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), said Saturday the incident occurred at mid-day Friday, resulting in a large helium leak into the tunnel containing the LHC, which was started with great fanfare earlier this month.

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.

A sector of the 27-km circular tunnel, which was under the Swiss-French border, will now have to be warmed up well above absolute zero degrees Celsius so that repairs could be made, CERN said in a statement.

“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 statement said.

International scientists at CERN seek to use the highly sophisticated instrument to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang more than 13 billion years ago.

Through analysis of the results of powerful particle collisions, they were expected to unlock many secrets of modern physics and answer questions about the universe and its origins.

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