7 August 2009

LHC to relaunch at partial power in November

Agence France-Presse
The world's biggest atom smasher will operate below full power when its restarts in November, says the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN)
LHC

Image shows the magnetic core being loaded into the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) detector of the LHC during construction. Physicists will use the CMS to attempt to address some of nature's most fundamental question. Credit: AFP/CERN

GENEVA: The world’s biggest atom smasher will operate below full power when its restarts in November, says the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

In a statement, CERN said no more repairs would be necessary for “safe running” this year and next, after the 27-kilometre collider is switched back on.

Nestled inside a tunnel straddling the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) promises to unlock scientific mysteries about the creation of the Universe and the fundamental nature of matter.

But the machine was shut down nine days after it was inaugurated in September 2008 following a series of technical faults, and repairs have taken until now. The LHC’s components had been tested to an energy equivalent of five teraelectronvolts at full power.

Better understanding

“We’ve selected 3.5 teraelectronvolts to start because it allows the LHC operators to gain experience of running the machine while opening up a new discovery region for the experiments,” said CERN’s director general Rolf Heuer.

The first data should be collected a few weeks after the first particle beam is fired. CERN said the partial power level will be kept until “a significant data sample has been gathered” and ramped up thereafter.

“The LHC is a much better understood machine than it was a year ago,” said Heuer. “We can look forward with confidence and excitement to a good run through the winter and into next year.”

The maximum output of currently the largest functioning collider in the world, at the Fermilab near Chicago in the United States, is one teraelectronvolt.

Designed to shed light on the origins of the universe, the LHC at CERN took nearly 20 years to complete and cost six billion Swiss francs (US$4.9 billion, A$6.7 billion) to build.

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