August 8, 2009

Day in the life of a really, really, really big collider

Any perturbation, however, such as a bad soldering job on a splice, can cause resistance and heat the cable and cause it to lose its superconductivity in what physicists call a “quench.” Which is what happened on Sept. 19, when the junction between two magnets vaporized in a shower of sparks, soot and liberated helium
Such was the day when the Large Hadron Collider went bung last year.

Not to mention the day they switched it back on, after repairs, to find that the biggest, most expensive physics machine in the world is still puttering along with thousands of bad electrical connections.

Handy dandy fact: magnets can be trained, and they can, mysteriously, lose their training, especially if trained-up then left sitting about for a year doing not much of anything. Kinda makes me want to rush out and buy a pet magnet.

Giant partical collider struggles


  1. Naughty magnets.... but it's to be expected if you don't give them a treat of protons and lead nuclei every now and then.

  2. Some people are glad it doesn't work because they believed it would cause a black hole that would swallow up the world. Some people are funny.

  3. Dan ... easy for you to say, try doing it in Melbourne without anyone thinking you're, err, kinky.

    Cubicle - the physicists are getting mighty antsy, which I can understand. Hells bells, some of them must wonder if they will live long enough.