Nov 17, 2008 | 1
The eagerly awaited start-up of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest particle accelerator, has been put off—again. The LHC was shut down in September, just days after being switched on for the first time, when an electrical malfunction caused a helium leak in the collider's tunnel. The repairs, which had been expected to last until spring, will now keep the LHC off-line into early summer, according to published statements from a spokesman for the accelerator's operator.
Oct 16, 2008 | 3
Initial suspicions that a faulty electrical connection between two magnets inside the giant Large Hadron Collider (LHC) caused a helium leak that ultimately shut down the machine have proved correct.
Mechanical damage from the September 19 electrical snafu caused the magnet to release helium into the particle accelerator's 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which operates the LHC, said today. CERN's investigation confirms its original explanation for the leak.
Sep 30, 2008 | 15
A federal judge has tossed out a case challenging the operation of the world's biggest particle accelerator—not that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is running, anyway.
Judge Helen Gillmor of the U.S. District Court in Hawaii dismissed the lawsuit Friday, saying the American judicial system has no jurisdiction over the $8-billion LHC, which is housed in a circular tunnel straddling the Swiss-French border. The New York Times is reporting on the dismissal today.
The suit was filed by a retired radiation safety officer, Walter Wagner, and Spanish science writer Luis Sancho, MSNBC's Cosmic Log has previously noted. The two claimed that the operator of the LHC, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), and its backers failed to show that smashing protons at nearly the speed of light wouldn't produce mini black holes that could obliterate Earth.
Sep 23, 2008 | 4
The world's largest physics experiment is on hold until spring while scientists and engineers try to figure out what caused a helium leak into the tunnel deep beneath the Large Hadron Collider, its operator says.
Making the tunnel warm enough for humans, then giving them the time to inspect the magnets blamed for the Sept. 19 leak, will take three to four weeks, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) says in a statement. CERN believes a faulty electrical connection between two magnets that will guide protons in planned collision studies is behind the leak.
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.
Sep 19, 2008 | 8
Did the group spearheading the world's biggest physics experiment just not want to spoil the party?
Within hours of its launch, the Large Hadron Collider malfunctioned, its operator has admitted — a week after powerful particle accelerator was turned on, the Associated Press is reporting.
A 30-ton transformer that cools part of the particle smasher broke on Sept. 11 after scientists sent a counter-clockwise beam around the 17-mile tunnel beneath the Swiss-French border, raising temperatures in the ring to 4.5 Kelvin (-451.57 Fahrenheit). The first, clockwise beam had been sent around the tunnel the day before, when the LHC was turned on.
Sep 12, 2008 | 13
As the first particles began circulating in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) this week, a group of hackers calling themselves the "Greek Security Team" penetrated computer systems inside CERN's Geneva, Switzerland, facility, where the world's biggest particle accelerator is housed, the Telegraph.co.uk reported today.
The hackers were reportedly targeting the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment (CMS), a device in Cessy, France, built to monitor a wide range of particles and phenomena produced in high-energy collisions in the LHC. The 12,500-ton detector's different layers (weighing, according to CERN, as much as 30 jumbo jets or 2,500 African elephants) stop and measure the different particles, and use this data to form a picture of events at the heart of the collision. Scientists plan to use the info to help answer questions about what the universe is really made of and what forces act within it.
On Wednesday, as the LHC was revving up, CMS engineers searched computers for half a dozen files uploaded by the hackers. The interlopers accessed the computer that monitors the CMS software system as the CMS collects data during particle collisions.
CERN scientists says no harm was done but that the break-in raises security concerns, given that intruders were able to penetrate so close to the CMS's computer control system, according to the Telegraph.co.uk. In other words, the hackers came this close to being able to switch off some CMS controls.
"We are 2600 - dont mess with us. (sic)," the group warned in a message to CERN engineers. The "2600" refers to a U.S. magazine published quarterly that appeals to the hackers worldwide by publishing technical information about telephone switching systems, the Internet and other technology, as well as computer-related news. The mindset behind the sharing of this information is to find vulnerabilities in the computer systems used by government and industry and force them to improve their security by exploiting their flaws. In fact, 2600 has become a brand in the hacker world: in addition to 2600: The Hacker Quarterly; an organization known as 2600 hosts hacker conferences and there's even a film company of that name that's made a documentary on legendary hacker Kevin Mitnick.
Given the huge interest not to mention the enormity of the LHC's task, it's "highly disturbing" that hackers were able to compromise and change data on its Web site, Graham Cluley, security researcher with Sophos Plc (a security services firm based in both the UK and Burlington, Mass.) wrote in his blog today. "Theoretically," he noted, "hackers could have planted malicious code which could have stolen identities or installed malware onto the computers of millions of web visitors."
Image courtesy of CERN
Sep 10, 2008 | 52
The particle-smashing Large Hadron Collider(LHC) is up and running, and we're still here.
"We've got a beam on the LHC," project leader Lyn Evans told his colleagues to applause after the machine finished coaxing a beam of protons around the 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel at 10:28 a.m. CEST (4:28 a.m. ET).
“There it is! There it is!” shouted the announcer from the European Organization for Nuclear Research, according to a live blog of the event on Symmetry Breaking. “Congratulations! This is astonishingly fast.” The test took about an hour to complete after CERN injected the proton beam into the LHC.
Sep 9, 2008 | 74
Heads up, science fiends and night owls: The greatest science experiment ever built is set to switch on at around 3:30 A.M. Eastern time tomorrow.
After 14 years and $8 billion, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) plans to inject the first beam of protons fully around the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the circular particle accelerator 17 miles (27 kilometers) long straddling the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva.
It will most assuredly not destroy the world.
What it will do is help researchers answer some big questions about the universe—why particles have mass; what dark matter may be made of, and why matter survived its brush with antimatter when the universe was young.
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