The restart date for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most expensive physics machine, has slipped yet again. The Geneva-based organisation said last night that the LHC would start up in November – and run at a lower power than originally planned.
The LHC suffered a catastrophic short-circuit last September, just days after its triumphant opening ceremony and before physicists could use it to do any real experiments.
Since then CERN engineers have been scrutinising every electrical connection and every magnet in the collider’s 27km underground ring – and finding a disconcerting number of faults. That required several slippages in the restart schedule.
Now Rolf Heuer, CERN’s director-general, is going for a date in November. “The LHC is a much better understood machine than it was a year ago,” he says. “We can look forward with confidence and excitement to a good run through the winter and into next year.”
The initial operating power will be 3.5 TeV, half the original specification. But it will still be much higher than any previous atom smasher – and should be enough to give the thousands of physicists waiting to work on the LHC a new glimpse into the fundamental forces and particles that make up our universe.