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Second Snag This Week Could Delay LHC for Weeks 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the unfortunate-but-to-be-expected dept.
sciencehabit writes "After a transformer failure earlier this week, the Large Hadron Collider has hit another snag — and this one is much more serious. As Science reports, 'At least one of the LHC's more than 1700 superconducting magnets failed, springing a leak and spewing helium gas into the subterranean tunnel that houses the collider ... How long [repairs take] will depend in part on how much of the LHC must be warmed to room temperature for servicing. If it's only a short section, the repair could be relatively quick. But the machine is built in octants, and if workers have to heat and cool an entire octant, then the cooling alone would take several weeks." Reader Simmeh contributes coverage from the BBC. We recently discussed the transformer malfunction at the LHC, which was a smaller problem and has already been fixed. Update - 9/20 at 12:52 by SS: CNN reports that the LHC will be out of commission for two months.
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Second Snag This Week Could Delay LHC for Weeks

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  • Re:sabotage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Al Dimond (792444) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:25AM (#25082315) Journal

    I would be surprised. Shit happens.

  • by 123beer (635607) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:44AM (#25082455)
    Some cosmological models posit that every possible quantum state simultaneously exists, but that we can only observe one particular collapsed wave function (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse_(science)#Many_worlds_interpretation_of_quantum_physics). So, maybe the LHC *does* in fact destroy the world when it is turned on, and we always find ourselves in a world that has not been destroyed (ie, one where the LHC is not functioning properly).
  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shma (863063) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:47AM (#25082485)
    A delay of a few weeks for a project that has been a decade in planning is no big deal. The universe isn't going anywhere.
  • by Jerry Beasters (783525) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:49AM (#25082499)
    Are you kidding me? It's an incredibly complicated machine on a scale that has never been done before in history. Things are supposed to be breaking now, that's how the scientists learn and it gets better over time. But of course people are always there in the wings ready to criticize that everything is not completely perfect.
  • by jibjibjib (889679) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @12:52AM (#25082519) Journal
    Calling it the "Large Hole of Cash" seems a bit unjustified. Even in the unlikely event that it turns out to be completely useless for physics, the technologies developed for particle detectors in the LHC have direct applications in medical imaging, and the LHC's computing Grid is working on problems such as protein folding. It's certainly not a pointless cash sink. Especially considering the amount of cash that governments tend to sink into various other unproductive things.
  • Re:sabotage (Score:5, Insightful)

    by txoof (553270) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @02:37AM (#25082997) Homepage

    I would have been amazed if a structure as complex as this worked the first time the switch was thrown. Think about how simply enormous the LHC [wired.com] is. It has miles of wire, gigantic magnets that have to be perfectly synced and placed with amazing accuracy. It's not like LHCs are turned out every week. Gigantic super colliders are HARD to build.

    They'll eventually iron out all the problems and can proceed to cause the world to end.

  • by davmoo (63521) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @03:16AM (#25083127)

    And even if it does turn out to be completely useless for physics, I would have much rather have seen my US tax dollars be wasted on something like a particle collider than how they've been wasted in Iraq. Money spent on science is almost never truly wasted.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 20, 2008 @06:18AM (#25083657)

    actually that might be worse; if all magnets must be online to keep the beam stable, having many magnets just make the statistical incidence of failure higher...

  • Re:sabotage (Score:4, Insightful)

    by flappinbooger (574405) on Saturday September 20, 2008 @10:11AM (#25084631) Homepage
    Yeah, but from the perspective of the non-geeks, it was finished and "turned on" just a few days ago.

    "It cost 70 bazillions of dollars to build, and now it's BROKE? What, they never actually DID anything with it yet either? What a joke" they'll say.

    From the perspective of the non-geeks, this thing is a perpetual money sink, a haven for nerds to tinker and fiddle with things that require unending tinkering and fiddling by design, with only a carrot of some potentially really great stuff that just might some day dribble out of the thing.

    Think about it, whoever wrote the grants or whatever that got them all that money is a genius - "Ummm yes, I need 70 bazillion dollars. What does it do? Ummmmm, yes, it will have the potential to reveal to us the HIGGS BOSON! Yes. HIGGS BOSON. What good is the HIGGS BOSON? Ummmm, yes, the HIGGS BOSON promises to reveal to us the very SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE!

    Go LHC! As a geek myself, I say we need more of these things!

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