CERN Aims for LHC Restart in September, First Collisions in October

Article written: 9 Feb , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

[/caption]It may seem that the delay is getting longer and longer for the restart of the LHC after the catastrophic quench in September 2008, but progress is being made. Repair costs are expected to hit the $16 million mark as engineers quickly rebuild the damaged electromagnets and track down any further electrical faults that could jeopardize the future operation of the complex particle accelerator.

According to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the Large Hadron Collider will resume operations in September. But the best news is: we could be seeing the first particle collisions only a month later

If, like me, you were restlessly awaiting the grand LHC “switch-on” on September 10th, 2008, only to be disappointed by the transformer breakdown the following day, but then buoyed up by the fact LHC science was still on track, only for your hopes to be completely quenched by the quench that explosively ripped the high-tech magnets from their mounts on September 20th, you’ll probably be weary about getting your hopes up too high. However, allow yourself a little levity, the LHC repairs are going well, potential faults are being identified and fixed, and replacement parts are falling into place. But there is more good news.

Via Twitter, one of my contacts (@dpodolsky) hinted that he’d heard, via word of mouth, that LHC scientists’ optimism was growing for an October 2009 start to particle collisions. However, as of February 2nd, there was no official word from CERN. Today, the CERN Director General issued a statement.

The schedule we have now is without a doubt the best for the LHC and for the physicists waiting for data,” Rolf Heuer said. “It is cautious, ensuring that all the necessary work is done on the LHC before we start-up, yet it allows physics research to begin this year.”

So, the $5 billion LHC is expected to be restarted in September and the first experiments will hopefully commence by the end of October 2009. It may be a year later than when the first particle collisions were planned, but at least a better idea is forming about when the hunt for the Higgs particle will recommence…

Source: CNET Cutting Edge

21 Responses

  1. Yael Dragwyla says

    Paul — I can only agree. Good science is not a matter of media circuses. There has to be a way to keep the media from sticking their big fat noses in everything before it would do some good. Any suggestions, anybody?

  2. Silver Thread says

    I bet we won’t see any collisions until Dec 21st of 2012 and then….

    Kidding, of course. Actually it’d be novel for the activation to happen on my Birthday.

  3. Astrofiend says

    Man, I am literally aching for this thing to start slamming particles together. I want it now! Now Now Now!!!

    I know the procedure has to be followed and they are working as fast as humanly possible, but that does nothing to assuage my childish impatience.

    You win this round Higgs Boson, damn you! You win this round…

  4. Jack says

    Awh 🙁 I want the Higgs Boson Particle nowww! 🙁 -Crys-…

    Why.. Wonder when the next collision is taking place =3

  5. Paul says

    I too am looking forward with great expectation to the startup of the LHC. However, when they do finally switch it back on I hope they do it without fanfare and the usual media bally-hoo. That way we may just get it running without the lunatic fringe blathering on about black holes, god particles and the end of everything.

  6. Olaf says

    “Any suggestions, anybody?”

    I would let those doom thinkers sign a paper, either agree with the science or do not agree with the science and put them in a cave on a remote island with no technology, medical help and cell phone. LOL

    I am wondering is the discovery of fire and the wheel also science? I meand if those doom thinkers are against science then maybe we should also take away their cigaret lighters and inline skates when they are on that island. LOL

    Just kidding of course.

  7. Aodhhan says

    ….what Astrofiend said.

    *Adds a few foot stomps*

  8. RickE says

    The article said,

    “as engineers quickly rebuild the damaged electromagnets”

    Quickly? Why don’t they slow down and do it right this time? The universe has been there for 13.5 billion years – no hurry.

  9. jake says

    hopefully it works.

  10. John M. says

    “the lunatic fringe blathering on about black holes, god particles and the end of everything”

    Are they the lunatic fringe because the chances of anything like this are completely zero, or just because the chances are really, really, small?

    If the latter, think about it from a statistical standpoint: While the chances are really tiny (I think I heard 50 million to one at some point), the consequences are really big (6.8 billion dead). Multiplying the probability times the risk is a common risk-assessment technique. Rather than saying the whole WORLD has a 1 in 50 million chance of being destroyed, what if each INDIVIDUAL had a separate chance at being killed? From a risk standpoint, it’s the same thing.

    6.8 billion divided by 50 million is 136, so from a risk standpoint, starting the LHC is theoretically equivalent to killing 136 people. Is it justifiable at that point?

    Of course the risk is impossible to determine, and if it’s actually more like one in 10 billion, then the risk drops below one life and it’s a moot discussion.

  11. Astrofiend says

    No John, probability maths doesn’t work that way. That is a seriously flawed argument. If the chance of the LHC will go bang is 1 in 50 Mil, then the chance that 6.5 billion people will die is one in 50 Mil is exactly the same prob that anyone at all will die – 1 in 50 Million.

    You can’t add up the probabilities for each individual like that because, if the LHC goes bang and the world explodes, there is a 100% chance that everyone on it will die. If it does not go bang, there is a 0% chance of anybody at all dying as a result of the world ending. Hence, 1 in 50 Million would be an absolute probability of anything bad happening to anybody.

    You can do a risk analysis whereby you multiply the risk factor by the ‘badness’ of a potential outcome and say that it is either acceptable or unacceptable, but you can’t multiply risk by a number of people and say ‘switching it on is equivalent to killing 136 people’. That simply makes no sense, mathematically or fundamentally.

  12. Astrofiend says

    …It’d be like trying to win the lottery by buying thousands of tickets but choosing the exact same numbers every time – you haven’t actually changed the odds at all by doing so.

  13. robbi says

    It will be started-and much will be learned how our Earth and the Universe really operates and will eventually have practical applications on bettering the’lay persons’ life.
    I wish these so called SiFi movie ‘experts’ quite looking and believing these ridiculous movies as the ‘truth’ and view the discovery and science channels. I will again state a what I believe is humorous and beyond belief’ – 2 Earth human thugs in black leather jackets jumping off their spaceships without any protective suits looking to beat up someone hiding on the Moon- if anyone believes this, well, ROTFLMAO – I don’t know what to say lol.

  14. John M. says


    “You can do a risk analysis whereby you multiply the risk factor by the ‘badness’ of a potential outcome and say that it is either acceptable or unacceptable”

    Right, that is Pascal’s theory of risk assessment.

    “, but you can’t multiply risk by a number of people and say ‘switching it on is equivalent to killing 136 people”

    I disagree. One could say that the badness of a potential outcome is exactly equal to the number of people who would die in that outcome. i.e., two people dying is exactly twice as bad as one person dying. So, if you have a 0.00000002 chance of killing 7 billion people. (remember, that’s a REALLY bad outcome), it’s morally the same as actually shooting 136 people.

    Think of it on a smaller scale. say you had a choice between two options. Option One gives you a 50/50 chance of killing one guy, and Option Two gives you a 1% chance of killing 1000 people. Option One is preferable.

    Some think of it this way: Say you are standing on an overpass with an overweight friend, watching an approaching runaway train. You know with certainty that if the train passes under you, it will hit an obstacle that will de-rail it and kill all 200 people aboard. But if you shove your fat friend over the rail, his body will stop the train and save everybody on board. Do you push him? Moral arithmetic would say yes.

  15. John M. says

    The reason I bring it up is this: I’m an engineer in a large company that manufactures millions of units of a certain consumer product every year, that are sold to people, and are used in their homes. We know with a great deal of certainty that at least a few units per million will have some kind of safety defect that is very difficult to detect, and will probably kill or injure somebody. Eliminating these defects is possible, but would double or triple the price of our product. Therefore, if we took action to eliminate these defects, we would simply go bankrupt, and people would buy these products from our less scrupulous competitors.

    This being the case, we simply calculate the number of probable injuries that will result from use of our product, and multiply that by the likelihood of losing the lawsuit and the average expected judgement. If this cost is something that our insurance policy will cover, we continue with production. Obviously a despicable practice, but one that pays my mortgage. How is this different from turning on the LHC?

  16. David says

    John – I don’t know where this 50 million to 1 chance of failure figure came from – and although I do take your point about the risk assesment of the LHC, I’d question your maths which seems to be saying that the risk increases as the population of the planet increases.

    And I cannot agree with your reasoning which leads you to conclude that switching pn the LHC is “morally the same as actually shooting 136 people”.

    That said – it’s refreshing to read a rational posting from someone who is aginst the LHC on the grounds that it might create a mini black hole!

  17. John M. says

    I guess I should be using the word “consequences” instead of “risk”. Risk is the balance between probablility and consequences.

    Actually I’m all for the LHC. I just think it’s an interesting question.

  18. Dave Finton says

    I know this point has been beaten to the ground by now, but the cosmic rays that slam into the Earth’s atmosphere on a regular basis are far more energetic than anything the LHC could produce. If those could produce dangerous mini back holes, we would have all been doomed billions of years ago.

  19. robbi says

    If humans can produce something with the power of a magetar (which is simply impossible to evenly think about!!!!) for our LHC or Tokamak and placed it on the Moon, then the doomsayers can have something to say while people in general will be quite mad all their metal objects not nailed down gets pulled to the Moon.. Fire the LHC up and let it go!!!

  20. Paul. says

    If, and it’s a monumental if, a black hole is formed it will be absolutely minute – probably a virtual one [I realise that’s not possible but bear with me]. The chances of it killing people or destroying the planet are zero. I thought this had been resolved in the summer.

  21. Max Hardwood says

    Frankly, I feel humanity is stepping into an area that is beyond their comprehension, and the results might possibly be catastrophic. After all, it’s all in the realm of experimentation, and we may experiment ourselves into non-existence. Isn’t the asteroid belt hypothesized to be a possible exploded planet? We may be on course to destroy our entire solar system, but, who knows? THAT’s the problem, who knows?

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