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New LHC report details collider's damage and repair

It's official! The hobbled Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will be up and running again by next summer, according to CERN, the European lab for particle physics where the mighty LHC resides.

The info is part of a new report released today by the agency on the September incident that shuttered the world's largest particle accelerator. CERN determined in October that the LHC was done in by an electrical malfunction shortly after its initial start-up that caused a helium leak in its tunnel.

According to the new report, 53 of the collider's thousands of magnets were targeted for removal, inspection and possible cleaning or repair. The lab says that more than half of those magnets, which are confined to a three-kilometer stretch of the collider, have already been taken out, and that the process should be wrapped up, with all magnets back in place, by the end of March, leaving plenty of time for the LHC to rev up again by the end of June. The report confirms a ScientificAmerican.com story earlier this week refuting blog buzz that the LHC would be benched until 2010.

The fixes are designed to mend as well as to prevent future such incidents. Among preventive steps the lab's taking, the report says: retrofitting the LHC to withstand a helium leak twice as large as the one triggered by the September catastrophe.

Photograph of a replacement magnet being readied for installation ©CERN/Maximilien Brice

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