The replacement parts for the damaged components of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are arriving, and cautious estimates push the recommissioning date back to July 2009. We now know the repair job will cost several million dollars (Ł14 million according to a recent report) and scientists have identified the cause of the September 19th quench that kick-started an explosive helium leak, buckling and ripping the heavy supercooled magnets from their mounts. But how can this be avoided in the future? After all, the LHC is the most complex experiment ever constructed, there are a huge number of variables that could spell disaster when the LHC is switched back on again. The "S34 Incident" was triggered by a small electrical fault, what can prevent this from happening in the future?
According to the official report,
the LHC requires an additional
"early warning system" that will be
tailored to detect small electrical
shorts, hopefully shutting the
system down before any further
damage to the LHC blocks the search
for the Higgs boson again…
It looks like official reports are being published thick and fast. Yesterday, I reported on two CERN reports that contained further details behind the problems faced by the engineers and physicists working on the repair of the LHC. One report suggested that it was an option to push back the date of LHC commissioning until 2010, whereas the other identified July 2009 as a good date to begin circulating protons once more. Now, a BBC news item has exposed some more facts behind the future of the LHC, indicating an early warning system is being considered to prevent an accident like the S34 Incident from happening again.