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LHC Shut Down Again — By Baguette-Dropping Bird 478

Posted by timothy
from the first-causes dept.
Philip K Dickhead writes "Is Douglas Adams scripting the saga of sorrows facing the LHC? These time-traveling Higgs-Boson particles certainly exhibit the sign of his absurd sense of humor! Perhaps it is the Universe itself, conspiring against the revelations intimated by the operation of CERN's Large Hadron Collider? This time, it is not falling cranes, cracked magnets, liquid helium leaks or even links to Al Qaeda, that have halted man's efforts to understand the meaning of life, the universe and everything. It now appears that the collider is hindered from an initial firing by a baguette, dropped by a passing bird: 'The bird dropped some bread on a section of outdoor machinery, eventually leading to significant overheating in parts of the accelerator. The LHC was not operational at the time of the incident, but the spike produced so much heat that had the beam been on, automatic failsafes would have shut down the machine.'"
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LHC Shut Down Again — By Baguette-Dropping Bird

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  • by Cyberax (705495) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:55AM (#30003852)

    OK. That proves it.

    Multi-world interpretation is correct and LHC is just a variant of quantum-suicide experiment.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:56AM (#30003856)
    They should keep the women away from the scientific equipment if they can't eat their lunch responsibly!
  • by spammeister (586331) <fantasmoofrcc AT hotmail DOT com> on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:59AM (#30003870)
    Was it a European Swallow or an African Swallow?
  • by Krupuk (978265) on Friday November 06, 2009 @04:59AM (#30003872)
    Didn't anybody brief the pigeon? Perhaps it was a bird scientist?
  • by pmontra (738736) on Friday November 06, 2009 @05:03AM (#30003882) Homepage

    This article [timesonline.co.uk] gives more information

    Further investigation into the failure of a cryogenic cooling plant revealed an unusual impediment. A piece of crusty bread had paralysed a high voltage installation that should have been powering the cooling unit.
    [...]
    A spokeswoman for CERN confirmed that baguette was responsible for the latest hiatus, but she conceded that mystery surrounded the way it got into the vital power installation, which is protected by high security fences.
    “Nobody knows how it got there,” she told The Times. “The best guess is that it was dropped by a bird, either that or it was thrown out of a passing aeroplane.”
    “Obviously this was slightly surprising. Within the team there was some amusement once they had relaxed after initial concerns.”
    The bread was discovered on a busbar - an electrical connection inside one of eight buildings above ground on the 17-mile (27km) circuit in the Swiss countryside.
    The spokeswoman said: “The collider extends over a very large area – you have to have a very comprehensive system to try to avoid problems of this kind. We’re talking about a couple of days down time.”
    Scientists hope that the temperature will be restored by around midnight tonight allowing work to continue. The failure of the cooler meant the temperature rose around 5 degrees to the equivalent of about -266C.

    A lot of things will drop on sections "of outdoor machinery". It seems that this LHC machine has been designed in such a way that will never get a chance to work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 06, 2009 @05:05AM (#30003890)

    The bird's briefing:

    The approach will not be easy. You are required to maneuver straight down this trench and skim the surface to this point. The target area is only two meters wide. It's a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the station.

    • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Friday November 06, 2009 @05:17AM (#30003940) Homepage Journal

      The bird's briefing:

      The approach will not be easy. You are required to maneuver straight down this trench and skim the surface to this point. The target area is only two meters wide. It's a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the station.

      If the bird has been hitting womp-rats back home there should be no problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
      Pidgeo Pidgrissian: Yes, I said *closer*! Move as close as you can, and engage those super-conducting magnets at point blank range!
      Admiral Platypus: At that close range we won't last long against those particle beams!
      Pidgeo Pidgrissiann: We'll last longer than we will against that quantum suicide event! And we might just take it down with us!
  • by Ashtead (654610) on Friday November 06, 2009 @05:06AM (#30003898) Journal

    One wonders how much it would take to put some kind of roofing over the most vulnerable exterior equipment. Something like corrugated tin on a steel frame or whatever.

    Or maybe a roof over the cafeteria and the rubbish bins, so that birds can't just come and steal baguettes.

    I've never heard of such deleterious effects of a bird dropping anything on outdoor power station switchgear ... what kind of vulnerable kit is this anyways?

    • by syousef (465911) on Friday November 06, 2009 @05:16AM (#30003932) Journal

      One wonders how much it would take to put some kind of roofing over the most vulnerable exterior equipment. Something like corrugated tin on a steel frame or whatever.

      You slashdot wise guys! Do you REALLY think PROFESSIONAL scientists would leave critical equipment exposed? That professionals paid to design and engineer a multi-billion dollar piece of equipment would forget a basic piece of covering? That you sitting there and speculating behind your keyboard sitting in your underwear in your mother's basement might have a better idea of how to protect delicate scientific equipment than hundreds of scientists and engineers with post graduate degrees?

      Well in this instance it looks like you might be right?

    • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Friday November 06, 2009 @06:09AM (#30004106)

      put some kind of roofing over the most vulnerable exterior equipment.

      There was a roof over it... but unfortunately they forgot about the tunnel effect...

    • "Hey, I have this great idea for solving your bird-baguette issues! It involves putting ferromagnetic joists over the top of your super-conducting magnets..."

      whatcouldpossiblygowrong
  • by Mr.123 (661787) on Friday November 06, 2009 @05:09AM (#30003906)
    Where's the humor tag? I kept looking for the Onion link or humor tag. I have a hard time believing this. It's gotta be joke.
  • by addsalt (985163) on Friday November 06, 2009 @05:09AM (#30003908)
    A baguette did not shut down the LHC because the LHC wasn't running (doesn't take superman to halt a train that isn't moving). Even the summary states

    The LHC was not operational at the time of the incident

    and the TFA

    This incident won't delay the reactivation of the facility later this month

  • the spike produced so much heat that had the beam been on, automatic failsafes would have shut down the machine.

    And had I been there at the writing of this headline, I would have kicked his ass! ^^

    Wait for the next article's headline to be: Someone Kicked Philip K Dickhead's Ass Again! (Because I bet, with that name, it happened more than once already. ;)

    • In the other universe where the LHC was running and about to violate causality you were at the writing of this headline and you did kick his ass.

  • Here's an idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 06, 2009 @05:18AM (#30003942)

    Hypothesis: There are multiple universes. Many of them build the LHC. In those that build it, most turn it on, destroying themselves. Not only do they destroy themselves, but they take out their planet, their galaxy, and their universe, including time, such that they essentially never existed.

    Obviously we can't live in one of those universes, so a series of accidents, bizarre or mundane, probably take place until someone decides it's not worth the effort and the project is scrapped.

    That would explain the long delays and the mind-bogglingly arbitrary accidents.

    Alternative hypothesis: The LHC is an internationally-funded, politically-changed science experiment of immense complexity. That alone would explain the delays and problems, and would also lead to it probably never being switched on.

    3rd hypothesis: The LHC is switched on eventually, gives us much scientific knowledge, and doesn't kill us all. But really, that's boring and doesn't make for compelling science fiction. Just compelled science.

  • Just how many of these freak accidents in a row would be necessary to provide incontrovertible proof of the "universe doensn't want us to switch LHC on" theory?

    I can imagine an objective demo : once we're sure that the principle exists, there would be a special room with a red button to turn on LHC. Skeptics would be invited to attempt to press the button...

  • by PaSTE (88128) <paste@@@mps...ohio-state...edu> on Friday November 06, 2009 @06:08AM (#30004096) Homepage
    The LHC is designed with very good fail-safes so that random events like this won't shut down the accelerator for huge amounts of time. It would mean at most a day or two of no beam before things got started again. These kinds of safety trips are to be expected a couple of times a month with a machine as huge and complicated as the LHC.
  • There's a saying (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Friday November 06, 2009 @06:35AM (#30004196)

    "Never attribute to a time traveling malicious Higgs boson what can easily be attributed to human stupidity."

          Physicists spend too much time in the lab in theoretical situations. It's amazing that when they design a machine that will go outside, they forget that birds tend to crap on everything.

  • by ColaMan (37550) on Friday November 06, 2009 @06:38AM (#30004216) Homepage Journal

    http://hcc.web.cern.ch/hcc/cryo_main/cryo_main.php?region=Sector81 [web.cern.ch]

    Pretty wild to think that a rise up to 8 kelvin is a "serious overtemp event".

    (And fancy CERN having all their engineering data online like that, open to everyone..... anyone'd think they invented the internet or something.)

  • I too was pretty skeptical at first but now things are starting to get spooky.

    Face it, the odds are really small that this would happen. It is more likely you have a scientist who is very worried about bad things happening, and who has actually intelligently sabotaged the system by trial and error, ending up with the old baguette-on-the-busbar trick which must be a physics joke among French speaking countries.

    On the other hand, if the LHC is really a universe suicide machine then there must be an uncountable number of universes which died, due to the baguette hitting the wrong exterior portion of the LHC, etc.

    Particle physics is one place where extremely big or small numbers are a matter of everyday discussion I expect. Unless a perpetrator is found soon (and boy I really hope one is), I doubt this will cause consternation among the public. Maybe if there are some smart people at LHC they may be freaking out now.

    But consider what if the "running the LHC kills the Earth or maybe Everything" theory is true. First of all, almost all but a small fraction of all universes stemming from our many universes existing as of say a year ago must be extinguished by now, the odds of a bird with baguette causing a short-circuit being so small. If one more freaky incident occurs (as must happen according to the theory) then I think you will start seeing a lot of people freaking out and trying to stop the thing.

    Also, if "LHC kills Earth" is true, and "there is a multiverse built like an ever branching tree" is true, then building the LHC is an act of pruning the tree and the number of universes in which you may potentially exist. In other words, there are way less alternate histories now, so existence for us is a lot less richer according to one way of looking at it (the number of multiverses). Another way of looking at that might be, is that it might become easier or harder to do things like quantum computing, or evolution, or scientific advancement toward a singularity, assuming that some connection among the multiverses, such as gravity, exists.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Spatial (1235392)
      I find the whole concept that we can destroy the Universe fundamentally ridiculous. Perhaps if the beam hits your ego...

      I mean do you know what we are on that scale? We're specks even compared to the miniscule star we orbit. Itself a speck inside a cloud of billions of specks, amongst billions of billions of clouds of billions of specks.

      And we can destroy all this? Heh, no.
  • by PinkyDead (862370) on Friday November 06, 2009 @08:00AM (#30004494) Journal

    Two African swallows with a piece of string between them... maybe.

  • by Genda (560240) <marietNO@SPAMgot.net> on Friday November 06, 2009 @09:19AM (#30004824) Journal

    The LHC... the worlds most sophisticated toaster!!!

  • by mano.m (1587187) on Friday November 06, 2009 @12:16PM (#30006374)

    'Higgs-Boson' sounds like a particle discovered by two people named Higgs and Boson, which is not the case.

    The Higgs particle was predicted by Higgs, amongst others, in '64. Its statistical behaviour classifies it as a boson (i.e., a particle that follows Bose-Einstein statistics), which are named after Bose.

  • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Friday November 06, 2009 @01:55PM (#30007360)

    It's an indoor piece of equipment. Above ground, but still in a building. Stupid reporter thought above ground meant outdoors.

    It's a slice of bread. Birds don't SLICE bread. Nor do they carry around whole slices. Some lazy-ass contractor was sitting on a catwalk having lunch, dropped a slice, looked down into a mess of gear, shrugged, and went back to his sandwich. They're covering for his ass with stupid theories so they don't have to launch a full scale investigation and fire somebody for jamming up the works by being first clumsy and then criminally negligent by not reporting the incident and getting it taken care of.

    They need to perform the full scale investigation. If the schlub drops a slice of bread somewhere else, they could lose something a lot more expensive and difficult to replace than 5 degrees kelvin.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.

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