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Need for repairs stalls particle collider


GENEVA – Scientists will have to wait until spring to use the world’s biggest particle collider for groundbreaking research because repairs will run into the laboratory’s normal winter shutdown, the operators said Tuesday.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research earlier said an electrical failure Friday, nine days after the collider was first started, released a large amount of liquid helium into the tunnel.

Experts have gone into the 17-mile circular tunnel housing the Large Hadron Collider to check on damage caused when an electrical connection between two magnets apparently melted, said James Gillies, spokesman for the organization, which is known as CERN.

But they have to wait several weeks before the temperature can be raised from near absolute zero so they can actually go inside the equipment and fully assess the damage, Gillies said.

“They’re going to have to open up and really investigate what went on there,” he said. At least two months will be needed for the whole procedure, he said.

The new collider, launched with great fanfare Sept. 10, had an auspicious beginning. But a transformer failed about 36 hours after startup, forcing a halt in tests.


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