Monday, February 16, 2009

Latest details about the ongoing LHC repairs

We've heard the big news about the LHC schedule that was decided in Chamonix a few weeks ago, so I was not expecting anything too exciting from a talk this morning at our ATLAS collaboration meeting. What did strike me (again) was the size and scale of the task facing the physicists and engineers getting the accelerator back up and ready to go.

For example, they had to take basically a giant Q-tip dipped in alcohol to clean the soot from the inside of nearly 2 miles of beam pipe (the soot being from the incident last September). Another number is 150 miles -- the additional length of cable that needs to be installed for the enhanced quench protection system. And how about $10 million? Compared to the stimulus package it might be peanuts, but it's the additional cost of electricity for running the LHC through next winter (electricity is more expensive in winter than summer here, which is why we would usually shut down in winter). And finally, 104 -- the number of places around the ring where they will reinforce those red blocks that anchor the magnets to the concrete tunnel floor (see the CERN bulletin).

I'm trying to keep these numbers in mind, because otherwise it can be pretty discouraging to scan back through my blog posts to see how the schedule has slipped from September 08 to April 09 to May to June to ... September? October? All because of some missing solder:

(The bad magnet connection. As I understand it, the connection on the left is "bad" because the half-circle is copper-colored, rather than coated with the silver-colored solder that you can see on the connection on the right.)

The bottom line is that I need to be patient, because they still have a ton to do to fix the machine and we have months to go before there are protons in the LHC. Good thing there are plenty of photos from fashion week to keep me occupied ;)

A bientôt!

1 comment:

mona said...

Just catching up on your February posts. Thanks for the LHC updates. I like getting your "on-the-scene" perspective.