After a successful switch-on in September last year there was a slight electrical mishap, and a large helium leak, at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern. They completed the
£14million £24million refit back in May this year and, after testing the high-current superconducting electrical connections, have now started to test fire particles through one sector of the super-cool collider. Beams are expected to be in full flight, if not full power, by the end of the year. For those of a tinfoil persuasion there’s been some wildly speculative, if “theoretically valid”, nonsense about time-travelling bosons, and some tongue-in-cheek [I think] concerns about multi-verses. The Guardian’s Robin McKie has been talking to Steve Myers, the 63-year-old Belfast-born director of accelerators and technology at Cern. From the Guardian report.
In fact, the real problem facing the LHC is simple. It is a vast device the size of London’s Circle Line but is engineered to a billionth of a metre accuracy. Ensuring that no flaws arise at scales and dimensions like these pushes engineering to its absolute limits. Cern almost succeeded last year. Now it is convinced that it has got it right this time. “All I can say is that the LHC is a much safer, much better understood machine than it was a year ago,” said Myers. Most physicists believe he is right. “If it works, we will have built the most complex machine in history,” said one. “If not, we will have assembled the world’s most expensive piece of modern art.”