August 7, 2009

Collider to resume operation at half-speed

Switzerland's troubled Large Hadron Collider is expected to restart in November at half-speed and reach full capacity in 2011, scientists said.

The world's most powerful atom-smasher initially began operating Sept. 10 but was shut down nine days later when two magnets failed, causing a serious helium leak in the cooling ring.

The $6.7 billion collider, located in the suburbs of Geneva, has been under repair since then.

When it starts smashing protons in mid-November, the collider is to run at 3.5 teraelectronvolts, or 3.5 trillion electronvolts. A review several weeks later will determine how quickly engineers can boost it toward a full capacity of 7 teraelectronvolts, The Times of London reported Friday.

The collider won't go to full power until after it is shut down again and refitted in the winter of 2010-11, said Rolf Heurer, director general of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which built the collider.

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