Feeds

El Reg's LHC visit - Deleted Scenes

'An impossible machine that could not be built'

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

"Kids love it"

Before all that could even begin, the previous Large Electron Positron (LEP) collider had to be ripped out of the tunnel, a big job in itself.

As all the world knows, the LHC finally powered up last year: but it hadn't been running long when a faulty electrical connection between two magnets blew up - always a possibility when the coils have to carry 11,500-amp currents - and took out the liquid-helium conduit above it. Liquid helium, being a superfluid, will get through any crack or aperture, meaning that the conduits too must be engineered with extreme care.

Last year, the supercold liquid more or less exploded out of the failed join and roared along the insulating vacuum jacketing around the central cores, causing magnets to jump off their mountings for hundreds of metres each way. Repairs and modifications aimed at preventing another such disaster have taken up more than a year, possibly giving a rival American particle-puncher time to beat the LHC in the race to find the elusive Higgs boson.

An LHC boffin explains how the mighty machine operates.

This is the type of thing which absolutely will not happen if we have a problem

It having been judged impossible to replace or test every single connection in the whole ring in a reasonable time, the plan is now to fire the machine up at half power initially and gradually turn it up later. These will be tense times for engineers like Kurtyka: though he smiles and says "I'm a mechanical engineer, not an electrical one. It was an electrical fault."

Kurtyka likes working at the LHC anyway, despite the difficulties, tension, risk of being turned into a frosty stalgamite statue in a liquid helium leak, possibility of dimensional portal invasion and so forth.

"Kids love it," he says. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.