Posts Tagged 'CERN'

Physicists Prefer Mac OS X

Apple is featuring an article on one of the physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider, who just so happens to be a huge Mac fan. According to Brian Cox, any physicist will tell you that the Mac is the way to go, especially if you need to run both new apps and old UNIX programs.

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Big Bang machine is named top phenomenon

The Large Hadron Collider has been dubbed the “Phenomenon of the Year” by the editors of the prestigious journal Science, despite its technical difficulties.

The “Big Bang Machine”, the world’s largest particle accelerator, only functioned for nine days in September before a helium leak caused a malfunction, shutting it down until the summer of 2009.

Nevertheless, the editors of the United States-based journal said the collider would be a major success if the atom smasher produced “even a little data” given the complexity of the machine.

The collider, which runs in a 27-kilometre circuit under the Swiss-French border near Geneva, is designed to run at a temperature of close to absolute zero, which is colder than deep outer space. A faulty weld in the cooling system caused considerable mechanical damage to the machine. Repairs could cost SFr35 million ($29 million).

The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) built the machine in the hope of finding out what happened when the universe was one trillionth of a second old.


LHC restart date now June at earliest

The world’s most powerful particle accelerator will go live again in June at the earliest, following the fault that shut it down in September.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern), which runs the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), previously suggested the apparatus would be restarted in April. On Monday, however, it emerged that June would be the earliest possible date for operations to resume fully.

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CERN releases analysis of LHC incident

Geneva, 16 October 2008.

Investigations at CERN following a large helium leak into sector 3-4 of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) tunnel have confirmed that cause of the incident was a faulty electrical connection between two of the accelerator’s magnets. This resulted in mechanical damage and release of helium from the magnet cold mass into the tunnel.

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Aerial View of CERN

Date set for restart of Large Hadron Collider

The Large Hadron Collider will be turned on again at the beginning of April, according to Cern director general Robert Aymar.

The LHC, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, was built by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) to conduct experiments to test fundamental physics theories and to search for important new science such as the Higgs Boson. The particle beam machine, located at the border between France and Switzerland, was first powered up on 10 September, but the experiment had to be closed down on 19 September after a malfunction caused a leak of liquid helium.

Aymar said that at the moment the scientists at Cern do not know what caused the leak, as the equipment, which needs to be cooled to 1.9° above absolute zero to operate, still had to heat up to room temperature to be examined.

“We have to perform a test, but we cannot believe a magnet is faulty,” Aymar told “At the moment we think it is an [electrical] connection. We have thousands of connections and they can’t all be tested in situ. We’ll see after the magnet returns to room temperature.”

James Gillies, head of communications at Cern, told that each magnet in the LHC was tested before it was switched on, but not the electrical and vacuum connections. “What seems to have happened is that one spliced between two connects failed, which broke the superconducting cable,” he said.

Gillies described what Cern believes happened after the cable broke: “We had helium liquid leaking, going from a liquid to a gaseous state. A lot of helium was lost. It expands, so there was an increase in pressure, and a lot of mechanical damage. We’re pretty sure the extent of the damage was manageable.”

The LHC will come back online at the beginning of April [2009], after a period of maintenance. Aymar said that from the 15 November to the beginning of April, all the accelerators are closed down each year for maintenance. The closure period also reduces the winter load on the French power grid, which normally supplies the experiment.

“In general we call [the closure period] ‘consolidation’, but really we have to do it otherwise they would fall apart,” Aymar said.

Aymar spoke to at the official launch of grid computing at Cern on Friday. However, the grid-computing system has been running since 2003.


Cern goes live with world’s biggest grid

The world’s largest computing grid has been formally inaugurated at Cern, the Geneva particle physics research centre that is home to the Large Hadron Collider [LHC] experiment.

The LHC computing grid has been developed over the past five years as the third key element of the project to study the sub-atomic particles created in the instant following the Big Bang.

Accelerators that smash particles together at near light-speed, detectors that search through the debris from those collisions, and the computing grid itself will together be used to understand the nature of the universe.

“The LHC computing grid forms an unprecedented computational and storage device,” said Cern director general Robert Aymar.

The grid connects 140 data centres in 33 countries into a single processing entity for use by more than 7,000 scientists worldwide, who will be analysing the estimated 15 petabytes [15 million gigabytes] of data produced by the LHC every year.

The grid was due to start capturing and processing data from the LHC but live use has been delayed by a helium leak in the giant underground ring beneath Geneva that caused the experiment to be temporarily shut down on 10 September. It will restart in spring 2009.

Cern is currently running tests and simulations, processing some 50,000 jobs at any time.

“The worldwide LHC computing grid is a vital pillar of the LHC project,” said Jos Engelen, chief scientific officer for the LHC project.

“It is an absolute necessity for analysis of the LHC data. It is the result of a silent revolution in large-scale computing over the last five years.”

Much of the research and development that has gone into creating the grid, involving HP, Intel and Oracle, is likely to lead to new developments in business technology in the coming years.

“The significance of the LHC computing grid goes well beyond the LHC,” said Ian Bird, leader of the grid project. “Many other researchers are already benefiting from the lessons learned here.”


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