A technician walks under the core magnet of the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment at the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN (Centre Europeen de Recherche Nucleaire) in the French village of Cessy, near Geneva, in this March 22, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
The world's largest physics experiment is on hold until spring while scientists and engineers try to figure out what caused a helium leak into the tunnel deep beneath the Large Hadron Collider, its operator says.
Making the tunnel warm enough for humans, then giving them the time to inspect the magnets blamed for the Sept. 19 leak, will take three to four weeks, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) says in a statement. CERN believes a faulty electrical connection between two magnets that will guide protons in planned collision studies is behind the leak.
After the magnets are inspected and fixed, the collider must then undergo a scheduled winter maintenance, CERN says.
CERN Director General Robert Aymar admits that the delay "is undoubtedly a psychological blow."
“Nevertheless … I have no doubt that we will overcome this setback with the same degree of rigor and application,” Aymar says.
When we spoke to Judy Jackson of Fermilab yesterday, she told us that "there inevitably are going to be setbacks along the way — it's part of the process" of starting up a particle accelerator. You can read more about what she and theoretical physicist Sean Carroll had to say about the unexpected delays here.
More News On CERN's Atom Smasher
Large Hadron Collider shuts down early for the winter -- Science News
"Big Bang" collider to restart in spring 2009 -- Reuters
Collider halted until next year -- BBC News
Repairs and onset of winter mean Europe's atom smasher on ice until spring -- CNews Science
Atom smasher will have to wait until spring -- CNN Science
Supercollider shut down until spring -- MSNBC
CERN says collider will have to wait until spring -- International Herald Tribune
Damage to atom smasher forces 2-month halt -- LA Times
'Big Bang Machine' to Be Shut Down Until Spring -- FOX News
Collider halted till next year over magnets problem -- Independent
Faulty Transformer Sidelines Atom Smasher -- CBS News
Atom-smasher shut down for two months after malfunction -- China View
Atom-smasher findings out soon -- News 24
Melted wire may shut down collider until '09 -- San Francisco Chronicle
LHC meltdown before first collision -- Nature News
The Large Hadron Collider News -- Nature News