The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, that will recreate conditions that existed in the beginning of the universe, is ready.
The 27 km tunnel in which the high energy particle accelerator is located is now finally shut, indicating that the world’s most expensive science experiment is set to restart.
Atul Gurtu, a physicist at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), which has been involved with the LHC at various stages, has just returned from the LHC site.
“The first low energy beam is likely to be injected into the particle accelerator in mid-November,” Gurtu said.
“Beams are always injected into the LHC from the lower accelerator and after that the energy will be raised to whatever maximum value the accelerator can reach,” he added. However, the high-energy collisions in the accelerator are expected only after mid December this year.
It was in September 2008 that the LHC — the most expensive science experiment — started operations. But it came to a halt within nine days after a fault in the electrical connection in the joints between two super-conducting magnets.
Through the past year, safety measures have been put in place to prevent accidents. A total of 53 damaged magnets have been replaced and 10,000 joints have been tested.
Additional sensors have also been put near the joints to measure the tiniest changes in the electrical resistance.
The transition from the low energy collision to high-energy is expected to take four weeks.
“However, the complexity of scheduling coupled with inevitable glitches in a machine of this nature could lead to this process taking longer,” read a statement from the press office of the European Organisation of Nuclear Research (CERN).
While some data will be collected from the initial collisions at lower energy, the particles will smash at full energy (5 Tev) only in 2010.
“That will depend on conditions and in consultation with the experiments,” said Gurtu.