December 7, 2008

‘Big Bang’ Collider To Resume Operations Next Summer

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced on Friday a further delay to the resumption of the vast particle collider designed to stimulate the "Big Bang".

Total costs to repair the Large Hadron Collider could be as high as 35 million Swiss francs ($29 million), including 15 million Swiss francs for repairs and 10-20 million Swiss francs for spare parts, said CERN spokesman James Gillies.

The collider, the largest and most complex machine ever made, is now expected to resume operations in summer, Gillies said.
The giant collider cost roughly 10 billion Swiss francs to build, and was funded by CERN's 20 European member states along with others, including the United States and Russia.   

"We will not be going to our member states asking for more money, we will deal with it within the current CERN budget," Gillies said.
The Large Hadron Collider was constructed to recreate conditions the instant after the "Big Bang", a phenomenon most scientists believe created the universe 13.7 billion years ago.

The particle collider sends beams of sub-atomic particles to smash into each other at nearly the speed of light.  Physicists will then examine the results of those tiny collisions for new or previously unseen particles that might reveal more information about the universe.
Scientists began the program with great fanfare in September, sending beams of proton particles around its 17-mile underground tunnel buried under the Swiss-French border near Geneva.  However, nine days later the program was shut down after an electrical fault resulted in a helium leak.

The leak was responsible for "quite considerable mechanical damage to the accelerator," Gillies said.

Repairs will necessitate that 53 of the collider tunnel's 57 magnets be removed and re-installed.  

Gillies said roughly 28 magnets have been removed so far, and all should be back in place by the end of March, Gillies said.
After originally estimating the machine would be restarted in spring, CERN expects now say the machine will be ready for tests again by June.
"We don't have a precise date for it yet," Gillies added. 


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