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Steve Nahn | USLHC | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

That is how it goes…

Hi All-

Welcome to the occasionally exasperating world of pushing the limits of science.  Yes, transformers break (and are repaired within days) and problems occur which also could be fixed in days were it not that they are in parts that operate at about 1 degree above absolute zero, which means repair requires some care and some time.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, have a look at Seth’s blog which does a nice play-by-play.  This sort of thing makes it very hard to plan on the beam, but those of us who have been there before (like at the Tevatron for 8 years) know that this is how it goes.  So do not despair and think the LHC is dead on arrival, it’s just going to take a little while longer.   In fact, for me it means an opportunity to be present at first collisions, which is a bit like icing on the cake in that I’m not crucial for operations, still, icing tastes good!

So what happens now?  Well, that is what the experimental teams are discussing, but essentially we’ll keep refining our own operational procedures using cosmic rays, take the opportunity to shore up the weak links in our systems, like fans that are affected by the magnetic fields, or failing electronic components, etc – turns out even the elevator at CMS is somewhat susceptible to the stray magnetic field – there are stairs for backup, but it is a long way up.

I hope (and expect) we’ll get a debriefing on what went wrong in the accelerator, and why it wasn’t caught in testing before the turn on, but right now they have to wait until the arcs are warm before they can go find out.  Anyway, one of the most remarkable things we’ve learned so far is that people are genuinely excited about what is happening, which enourmously gratifying – keep asking questions, we’ll keep answering, and try to fill you in on what to expect in the next few months.

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