The Large Hadron Collider is being officially inaugurated despite an
electrical failure that has put the world's biggest atom smasher out of
business for several months. Lisa Schlein reports for VOA from the
European Organization for Nuclear Research site that straddles the
Swiss-French border near Geneva.
Political leaders, science
ministers, CERN officials and six Nobel Laureates in Physics filed into
the huge tent erected on the site of the Large Hadron Collider. They
came to give thanks to the many countries that collaborated in this
enormous multi-billion dollar scientific project.
They came to
praise the many scientists who dedicated more than two decades of their
lives to create the most powerful atom smasher in the world, a machine
they believe will unlock many secrets of the universe.
video, LHC Project Leader, Lyn Evans relives the giddy moments on
September 10 when the first beam of protons was injected into the LHC.
Everyone was relieved and excited when the particles began traveling
around the 27-kilometer underground tunnel, as it had been programmed
But, the joy was short-lived. Lyn Evans told his
audience of nearly 2,000 people that not long after the successful
start-up, the LHC hit a snag.
"When the beam succeeded in making
its first full revolution, a second spot appeared 19 millionth of a
second after the first. In subsequent days, the commissioning of the
LHC advanced very rapidly until we encountered an electrical fault that
is now under repair. However, we have gone far enough to be sure that
the machine works perfectly as expected," he said.
believe a poor soldering job on one of the particle collider's
10,000 connections caused the fault. CERN spokesman, James
Gilies, tells VOA it is unlikely that the machine will be up and
running until spring or summer.
"The biggest loss to the
scientific community is time. We had hoped to have a month or two of
data with collisions this year, which would have allowed the
experimental collaborations really to start understanding their
particle detectors," he said.
Lyn Evans is disappointed by the setback. But, remains optimistic that the LHC will achieve great results.
its construction, there have been many challenges, which have all been
overcome one after the other," he said. "We are now looking forward to
the start of the experimental program when new secrets will undoubtedly
be revealed. The adventure of building the LHC will end and the new
adventure of discovery will begin."
And that new adventure,
say scientists will be to learn what happened when the universe was
born 13.7 billion years ago. Physicists also believe the LHC will
allow them to find an elusive elementary particle called the Higgs
Boson, which should explain why other particles obtain mass.