November 21, 2009

Big Bang Collider Restarts After 14-Month Hiatus

The LArge Hadron Collider, which was shut down after its inauguration in September 2008 amid technical faults, restarted on Friday, a spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) said.

The CERN spokesman said they hope to have beams circulating by early Saturday in the huge tunnels beneath the French-Swiss border.

"The first tests of injecting sub-atomic particles began around 1600 (1500 GMT)," CERN's James Gillies told AFP.

He said the injections lasted a fraction of a second, enough for "a half or even a complete circuit" of the Large Hadron Collider built in a 27-kilometer (17-mile) long tunnel straddling the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva.

The experiment will not be properly under way until January when the LHC is operating at full capacity, he said.

The machine was shut down just nine days after its inauguration last September following a series of technical faults.

The problem was a faulty splice in the super-conducting cable connecting two cooling magnets in the 27-km (17-mile) underground ring, which smashes particles at a temperature of just above absolute zero to recreate conditions believed to exist at the start of the universe 13.7 billion years ago.

Since then, the LHC's components have been tested to an energy equivalent of five teraelectronvolts at full power.

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

CERN had said in August that upon its relaunch, the LHC will run at 3.5 teraelectronvolts in order to allow its operators to gain experience of running the machine.

The first data should be collected a few weeks after the first particle beam is fired.

Designed to shed light on the origins of the universe, the LHC at CERN took nearly 20 years to complete and cost 4.9 billion dollars to build.


Image Caption: LHC magnet: superconducting quadrupole magnet. Credit: CERN


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