Monday, November 16, 2009
The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) could re-start its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) this week, a year after an accident brought the project to a halt, CERN said.
Experiments using the particle accelerator LHC were suspended last September shortly after a successful start, due to a malfunction of two superconducting magnets and a subsequent helium leak into the tunnel housing the device.
Work to repair the collider and upgrade it took over a year. In early November, a system to protect it from such accidents, named the Quench Protection System, was installed.
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The collider, located 100 meters under the French-Swiss border with a circumference of 27 km, enables scientists to shoot subatomic particles round an accelerator ring at almost the speed of light, channeled by powerful fields produced by superconducting magnets.
In order to fire beams of protons round the vast underground circular device, the entire ring must be cooled by liquid helium to minus 271 degrees C, just two degrees above absolute zero.
By colliding particles in front of immensely powerful detectors, scientists hope to detect the Higgs boson, nicknamed the “God particle,” which was hypothesized in the 1960s to explain how particles acquire mass. Discovering the particle could explain how matter appeared in the split-second after the Big Bang.
This article was posted: Monday, November 16, 2009 at 12:01 pm