Robert Aymar, the director general of CERN, has dispelled rumours that a series of buckled electrical connectors at the Large Hadron Collider will delay the accelerator’s official start-up date of May 2008. Writing in this week's CERN Bulletin, Aymar says that the problem concerns only a small percentage of the connectors and that it is “business as usual” for bringing the new accelerator online.
The LHC is a 27-km ring around which beams of protons are accelerated using hundreds of superconducting magnets, grouped into eight sectors and cooled with liquid helium. To prevent the intensity of the beam dropping, the beam has to induce a “mirror” current with little resistance in the walls, an ability that requires electrical continuity throughout. But because the sectors shrink by about 10 metres in total when cooled down to their 1.9 K operating temperature, the connections between components in the sectors must be provided by collections of sliding copper fingers or “plug in modules”
In the first week of August, however, PIMs in “sector 7-8” of the LHC did not expand properly when the sector was warmed up from the operating temperature — a procedure occasionally necessary in the long-term running of the accelerator. This caused the PIMs to buckle into the space reserved for the beam.
Read the rest here.
Science marches onward, I guess. Well, unless it blows itself up.