A breakdown in a magnet system during testing of the Large Hadron Collider last week may have the massive physics experiment off-line until next year. The LHC needs powerful magnets to contain and direct its beam of circulating protons. Those magnets need to be cooled to extremely low temperatures using liquid helium to achieve a superconducting state. "Preliminary investigations indicate that the most likely cause of the problem was a faulty electrical connection between two magnets, which probably melted at high current leading to mechanical failure," CERN officials said in a statement. That resulted in a large helium leak inside the tunnel containing the accelerator.
CERN Director General Robert Aymar called the problem "undoubtedly a psychological blow." Restart of the LHC is scheduled now for early spring, 2009. We'll find out what went wrong, and why it may take months to start up the LHC again.
Produced by Annette Heist, Senior Producer