Last week when it was announced last week that the Large Hadron Collider would have to be shut down for two months, I suggested that this could potentially conflict with the planned shut down in December. It seems that this is now officially the case. CERN engineers have stated that the collider will have to be offline until “spring 2009″ whilst they make repairs.
It’s a real shame considering the very successful launch on September 10th, where progress actually exceeded expectations. Still, the guys and gals at CERN are in it for the long haul – the particle collider took 13 years to build and another two to be ready for “switch-on”. It could also be years before substitutional results start to emerge from the experiment, so a few months delay is not the end of the world. Still, the downtime must be incredibly frustrating for all involved.
Many have called the LHC a cathedral of the 21st century. I’m not sure I like the “science is the new religion” implications, but in terms of sheer construction and engineering, it’s certainly an apt comparison. If you have checked out the facts and figures of the LHC, they make for interesting reading. Did you know that the LHC…
…is 26,659 metres long, but sends proton beams whizzing round 11,425 times a second?
…cooled to -271.3°C (1.9 K), but 100,000 times hotter than the sun when proton beams collide?
…will provide enough data to fill 100,000 DVDs a year?
Amazing stuff, but I guess we’re all going to have to wait until spring 2009 to see it in action.