Friday, October 17, 2008

Eight-Month Delay for LHC

It certainly is longer than we would have hoped for, but it is also lucky that this is not a showstopper.

The damage to the magnets due to the helium leak last month at the LHC will delay the start of the the next phase of the testing till either May or June 2009 (like is available only for a limited time without subscription).

Officials at CERN, Europe's particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, say that the time is needed to overhaul a sector of the 27-kilometre-long machine, after an electrical failure on 19 September caused some 6 tonnes of ultra-cold liquid helium to leak into its tunnel. A preliminary report issued on 16 October says that as many as 29 of the nearly 10,000 magnets used to guide the accelerator's proton beam will need to be replaced. Further magnets may need to be removed and inspected, and modifications must also be made to prevent future accidents. "It's a serious incident," says James Gillies, a spokesman for the laboratory.

Still, CERN is confident it has the resources to make the repairs. No more than 24 dipole magnets and 5 quadrupole magnets were damaged; CERN has 30 dipole magnets — each weighing 35 tonnes — in reserve, as well as sufficient quadrupoles, says Gillies. Replacement magnets are already being tested in a facility above the buried accelerator tunnel. Nevertheless, Gillies says that the damage will take all of CERN's winter shutdown period to repair. Not including labour and the spares, the work will cost an estimated 100,000 Swiss francs (US$90,000), he says.

We'll just have to wait a bit longer...


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