I don’t really know what to think of this, but apparently there’s a news story going around that a piece of bread found its way onto an electrical connection in one of the LHC’s above-ground buildings leading to a failure of a cooling unit. The buildings are protected by high security fences so the story is that it was probably dropped by a bird. The upside is that they don’t expect this to make a dent in the current LHC start up schedule.
[As someone who has yet to visit CERN, I have to wonder how such a think could actually occur. Is it so easy for a bird to get into one of these buildings? Should someone make silly references to Spiderman 3?]
I did my best to try to track this story down to a reputable source, hopefully the US/LHC bloggers currently at CERN might be able to comment? (Mike? Seth? See any birds lately? )
I first saw this story reported on the social news site Reddit, where it gathered plenty of rather funny comments, e.g. “So… what IS the average flight velocity of a baguette-laden swallow?” Reddit linked to a report in Popular Science, which in turn linked to The Register which claimed as its source a press briefing by Mike Lamont, the LHC Machine Coordinator. At the time of this writing, most of the Google News references to this incident point to the article at The Register, though some spiced it up with some of their own illustrations, e.g. the Crunch Gear blog.
Knowing The Register‘s history of making tongue-in-cheek statements, I dug a little bit deeper and I was finally able to track down a story from United Press International under their “Odd News” section with some details. This story finally references The Times of London, which has a nice write up by Nico Hines. It sounds like the fail-safes kicked in properly and it is expected that the LHC can stick to its scheduled restart (keeping in mind that this schedule gets regular minor updates).
So, on the one hand, it sounds like the story is legit. On the other hand, I maybe I should feel guilty that by posting this since I’m playing the role of “yet another blogger posting on a breaking news item and contributing nothing new other than a few snarky comments.” (What does this say about the state of blog-based journalism these days?)
[Hey, at least I provided a paper trail of references like an honest academic.]