Wednesday, September 24, 2008

LHC shut down compels CERN to collide mosquitoes

Due to the Large Hadron Collider's shut down for the winter caused by technical difficulties, CERN unvails the SMC, the Small Mosquito Collider, condemned by Stephen Hawking as an insult to science. "This is bullshit," said Hawking. "CERN breaks the LHC, and this is their back up plan? They better pray for a stable black hole, that's all I have to say," Hawking stated angrily, before blowing his chair's speakers.

A tonne of liquid helium leaked into the experiment's 17 mile (27km) long tunnel 19 September, caused by a faulty electrical connection between two of the accelerator's magnets. Once the incident was discovered, CERN physicists scrambled to the surface with nets.

"Coming immediately after the successful start-up of LHC on September 10th, this is undoubtedly a psychological blow," said Robert Aymar, director-general of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern). "But we're sure we'll get desired results from the SMC as soon as we find some mosquitoes, but if not, we'll coordinate with Evolutionary Acceleration Research Institute to use their Giant Animal Smasher, GAS."

Brian Cox, in a statement on BBC radio, reiterated CERN's talking points to defend the SMC. "We've been saying this all along, colliding mosquitoes is equivalent to colliding protons. Why wouldn't we fall back to our original collider? Oops," Brian Cox admits. "I know, I know... Why spend billions of dollars on a particle accelerator when you can get the same results smashing Mosquitoes? Well guess what, the LHC is paid for, so get over it! Anybody who thinks you can make a living from the SMC is a twat!"

To fend off critics before they could slam the SMC, CERN physicists dismissed any idea that smashing mosquitoes would create a super bug that would suck you dry.

1 comment:

Walter L. Wagner said...

All kidding aside, the accident of September 19, 2008 poses a number of serious questions.

It is unheard of to have 100 consecutive magnets quench, totaling some 1.5 kilometers in length.

If the connector between two magnets lost superconductivity, engaged in ohmic resistance heating, and melted, as suggested in initial reports, it raises several questions regarding how that happened.

It occurred while they were testing that sector by raising the current/field-strength from what it takes to curve a 0.45 TeV beam [injection speed/energy] to a field-strength that would curve a 5 TeV beam [stated goal to engage in collisions at 10 TeV in October, 2008]. Each magnet had reportedly been tested independently before installation, but the whole length of magnets had not been tested, thus the testing requirement for each sector as a whole, before beam injection.

So, the question is, at what field strength did the connector fail? At 1 TeV, 2 TeV, 5 TeV?. And the second question, was this the last of the sectors to be tested, or the first?

In any event, it calls into question the engineering design of the connectors. It will likely be determined that they can/will/do fail with their current design. If so, they will all have to be replaced/retrofitted in all magnets along the full 27 kilometer length. That won't happen this Winter, I'm fairly certain.

Another question pertains to potential damage to the magnets during the quench process. It appears the temperature gauges were damaged - they all stopped reporting save one, which stopped reporting five days after the accident. This implies physical damage to the gauges, and ergo, another design defect that would have to be retrofitted/corrected on all magnets.

And then, it still remains to be determined whether heating from 2K to 100K in a fraction of a second caused any damaged. It's not supposed to happen, according to the design. But then, 100 magnets are not supposed to quench simultaneously either, according to the design. So those magnets will need to be tested to see if they suffered any physical damage. If any of them did, that would imply a design defect that would need to be retrofitted on all magnets.

This accident is far more serious than initially being reported - and this is likely known by those engineers in the know, but possibly not yet being reported to management [Engelen/Aymar].

And, they're also having difficulties with maintaining their cool [pun intended]. Both ends of sector 3-4 are slowly warming. And even sector 2-3 is showing some difficulty. Perhaps they need more Helium, and it's not available?

In any event, they also have to worry about keeping everyone busy during the down-time, creating 'make-work' projects. It would be nice if they started working on the ideas we've proposed to look for the proofs of safety, if they exist. That'a all good science too.