Rumors of the LHC's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

By Andrew Moseman | March 10, 2010 10:03 am

lhcwide425It sounded again today like the Large Hadron Collider—previously the victim of technical failure, hackers, and avian sabateurs—was cursed. The BBC reported that the world’s largest particle collider would have to shut down at the end of 2011, possibly for an entire year, to address its mechanical problems, according to LHC director Steven Myers. The report states that the faults will delay the machine reaching its full potential for two years [BBC News].

Just one problem, though: While the information came out as another “LHC is broken” news break, Myers actually put forth the intended schedule more than a month ago. The LHC team announced that it would actually extend the physics run through until December 2011, before shutting the accelerator down for a year. The only real delay here has been to the reporting of the story [The Times]. Brian Cox, one of the project scientists, spent the morning tweeting up a storm in protest to the news handling of what he says is just a scheduled shutdown. (A typical tweet reads: “For the very last time – the #lhc story is a pile of merde, as we say at CERN. Scheduled maintenance stops are not bloody news!”)

The LHC will keep running until late next year at 7 trillion electron volts (TeV), as planned. The engineers will go in after that to carry out the planned maintenance on systems in the tunnel that have proven problematic so far; their improvements should allow the LHC to approach what was the goal from the start, doing physics at 14 TeV. In any case, the machine’s upcoming resting time isn’t an emergency shutdown. Particle accelerators are regularly shut down for re-engineering. They are huge, complex instruments, and it’s just impossible to run them full-time like a domestic boiler [The Times].

Related Content:
80beats: LHC Beam Zooms Past 1 Trillion Electron Volts, Sets World Record
80beats: Baguettes and Sabateurs from the Future Defeated: LHC Smashes Particles
DISCOVER: A Tumultuous Year at the LHC
Discoblog: LHC Shut Down By Wayward Baguette, Dropped By Bird Saboteur

Image: Claudia Marcelloni / CERN

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math
  • Clark

    The Mayans were right! How would they know this Doomsday Machine would be built and run to full capacity in 2012?

  • lame_saint

    Anybody ever consider that perhaps the Mayans just got tired of making calanders for years that they and their children would never live to see anyway?

  • ron hastings

    OR may be the Mayan conservative political leaderships constant predictions of doom (as a control mechanism ) accurately materialized but from a unknown source and thus became a reality
    that’s why i am still rooting for cold fusion

  • Stewart

    It’s clearly not just a case of a “scheduled maintenance stop”. It’s just that work needs to be done so the machine can run as it was originally designed to.

  • Drew

    According to John Titor, a time-traveler from 2036, his method of time travel will be discovered by the LHC when 2 micro-blackhole’s event horizons are positioned perpendicular to eachother. What if the Mayans were told this by another time traveler? Thereby making 2012 a very significant date indeed, the end of time as we know it! If I could go back in time i think I might be inclined to go muck around with the affairs of dead civilizations, knowing they are going to die out anyway, it may minimize the risk of changing something in the future.

  • seriously

    Either way 2012 or not what the f-ck are we playing around with things could not only alter nature but possibly even get that close to a big bang..We cant even drill for oil without disasters, how many days did it take to clean up the BP mess..We didnt! So who and what is gonna clean up a cern mess. We should be focused on mastering the elements we have not gambling with things we dont understand. Science or not, evolution blah whatever i would rather be part of a science that benefitted mankind without such severity or how about the worlds largest experiment was to end hunger or disease.

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