Saturday, September 27, 2008

LHC Setback Is Not Surprising

In fact, I would say that the recent setback of the LHC is expected! You can't design and operate a machine that complicated, that big, and that technologically advanced and not have some form of failure. Many physicists in the know thought that the first series of start-up that they had to get the beam in the ring was unusually smooth! They expected more problems with that than what was seen.

My buddy Ben has started a blog (welcome to the blogsphere, Ben!) and he has this rather amusing anecdote on the problems faced at the Tevatron both when it first went online and at the start of Run II. I think this will put things in perspective as to why problems being faced at the LHC is, really, not unexpected. The only thing we don't want is a show-stopping failure, and this isn't it.



Ben said...

Hi Z! Thanks for the link. You're right that the issue is whether it's a show stopper, which I don't think this one is. Any word, though, on whether this is isolated to the magnet that failed, or are they going to have to preemptively repair more of them?

ZapperZ said...

Hi Ben,

None of the ATLAS people have been around the past week or so (hum, I wonder if they're hiding?), so I didn't quite get all the inside details on the nature of the failure. All I can go by is what have been published and reported. So based on those alone, I don't see this as being a systemic problem, but rather isolated.

Still, even if they have to do the same preemptive repair, it isn't a major issue, only time-consuming. Since they are going to be down till spring anyway, this isn't going to affect their schedule.