On Sept. 18, the news from CERN, the organization that runs the LHC, was that an electrical problem involved with a cooling system caused a helium leak that would keep the mammoth particle accelerator out of commission for a day or so. A couple days later, days stretched into two months: The machine would need to be warmed back up, which will take three to four weeks, before a full investigation could be done.
Now the outlook is even more bleak for eager physicists who have already waited decades for the giant collider to come to fruition, after a week of tantilizingly successful beam operations.
The warm-up period and ensuing investigations will bump up against the LHC’s “obligatory winter maintenance period,” according to a statement today from CERN. This brings us into early spring before commissioning can restart.
Do I have to say that this is also exactly what we’d be told if something super-freaky had happened when they first turned this thing on, something so super-freaky that they’re afraid to turn it on again? “Obligatory winter maintenance period.” Good one.