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Science Technology

CERN's LHC To Shut Down For Repair & Upgrades 97

hypnosec writes "CERN has revealed that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is going into hibernation and will be shut down for a period of two years for upgrades. The LHC will go through a maintenance and upgrade phase starting in March that will bring the atom smasher up to speed with its maximum energy levels. From the article: 'The machine that last year helped scientists snare the elusive Higgs boson – or a convincing subatomic impostor – faces a two-year shutdown while engineers perform repairs that are needed for the collider to ramp up to its maximum energy in 2015 and beyond. The work will beef up electrical connections in the machine that were identified as weak spots after an incident four years ago that knocked the collider out for more than a year.'"
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CERN's LHC To Shut Down For Repair & Upgrades

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  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @03:40PM (#42497533) Homepage

    The LHC beam tunnel is just barely big enough for the beam line and magnets. The layout is as tight as a submarine. Getting magnets in and out is a huge pain. The original intent was that it wasn't going to be necessary to do that very often. It didn't work out that way.

    But after the last failure, they discovered that the electrical connections between the sections weren't as solid as they needed to be. The trouble four years ago happened because a weld wasn't good enough. A connection went non-superconducting and became resistive, and all the energy stored in the associated superconducting magnets was converted to heat. The area of the joint exploded and most of the liquid helium in the system converted to gas, blowing out a lot of cryogenic plumbing.

    Because of the tight spaces, tasks which ought to be done in parallel have to be done sequentially. That increases downtime.

    The unfinished US Superconducting Supercollider had tunnels big enough for railroad trains. (It was in Texas and a pork program; what would you expect?) CERN built cheaper, but they pay for it in downtime.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak