Sep 22, 2008 | 4
Physicists are brushing off problems that led them to shut down the world's largest particle collider for repairs and temporarily halt an $8 billion search for the origins of the universe.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) says that it will take at least two months to fix a "large helium leak" into the Large Hadron Collider's 17-mile tunnel. The likely cause of the drip: a faulty electrical connection between two magnets that are supposed to guide the protons in planned particle-collision experiments.
The mishap occurred Friday, a day after CERN admitted that a transformer had broken just hours after the LHC's Sept. 10 launch. The transformer malfunction caused the tunnel to heat up from minus 455.8 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees on the Kelvin scale) to minus 451.57 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Kelvin). Once scientists replaced the transformer, the cryogenic fluids that keep the tunnel cold brought temperatures down to around minus 459.4 degrees Fahrenheit (zero degrees Kelvin), the optimal temperature for particle collisions, within a week.
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