Friday, June 22, 2007

CERN Delayed. :(

Well, the LHC at CERN will be delayed until next may. Here is the announcement:

Geneva, 22 June 2006. Speaking at the 142nd session of the CERN1 Council today, the Organization’s Director General Robert Aymar announced that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will start up in May 2008, taking the first steps towards studying physics at a new high-energy frontier. A low-energy run originally scheduled for this year has been dropped as the result of a number of minor delays accumulated over the final months of LHC installation and commissioning, coupled with the failure in March of a pressure test in one of the machine’s components.

The LHC is a scientific instrument of unprecedented complexity, and at 27 kilometres in circumference, the world’s largest superconducting installation. Cooling the first sector of the machine to a temperature of 1.9 K (-271.3°C), colder than outer space, began earlier this year and has provided an important learning process. The first sector cool down has taken longer than scheduled, but has allowed the LHC’s operations team to iron out teething troubles and gain experience that will be applied to the machine’s seven remaining sectors. Now cold, tests on powering up the sector have begun and the cool down of a second sector will soon be underway.

In March, a magnet assembly known as the inner triplet, provided to CERN as part of the contribution of the US to the LHC project, failed a pressure test. A repair has been identified and is currently being implemented.

“The low-energy run at the end of this year was extremely tight due to a number of small delays, but the inner triplet problem now makes it impossible,” said LHC Project Leader Lyn Evans. “We’ll be starting up for physics in May 2008, as always foreseen, and will commission the machine to full energy in one go.”

The new schedule foresees successively cooling and powering each of the LHC’s sectors in turn this year. Throughout the winter, hardware commissioning will continue, allowing the LHC to be ready for high-energy running by the time CERN’s accelerators are switched on in the spring. Commissioning a new particle accelerator is a complex task. Beams will be injected at low energy and low intensity to give the operations team experience in driving the new machine. Intensity and energy will then slowly be increased.


  1. I had high hopes that when CERN switched on the LHC in November of this year, they would inadvertently create a black hole, thus increasing the sales of my book, 'The Ancient Order of Moridura' (with a related theme of a nascent singularity created by a meteorite impact in Extremadura).

    But then I realised that the extinction of the planet - and probably the solar system - would prevent me from collecting my royalties. Life can be unfair sometimes!

    However, doomsday has been postponed until April/May of 2008 because of problems with magnets.

    The Higgs boson must be chuckling quietly in interstellar space, its anonymity preserved for a little longer.


    Peter Curran
    Edinburgh, Scotland

  2. How does this affect the job market for physicists?


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