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Glitch Fixed: Large Hadron Collider Is on Track for Restart

CERN engineers have resolved a problem that had delayed the relaunch after a two-year refit of the Large Hadron Collider particle smasher.
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/ Source: NBC News

GENEVA — CERN engineers have resolved a problem that had delayed the relaunch of the Large Hadron Collider after a two-year refit.

A statement from the research center just outside Geneva said that engineers sent a 400-amp jolt of electrical current through a fragment of metal that was causing an intermittent short circuit in one of the collider's giant magnets. The fragment melted, like the strip of metal in a household electrical fuse — and on Tuesday, follow-up measurements showed that the short circuit had disappeared.

The relaunch of the world's most powerful particle-smasher had to be postponed last week because of the problem. CERN said engineers would take a few days to recheck the circuitry and then start sending beams of protons through the machine's 27-kilometer-round (17-mile-round) underground ring of magnets.

Physicists say proton collisions ramping up to twice the power of the first runs, which brought the discovery of the long-sought Higgs boson, will begin in May. These collisions, at almost the speed of light, should create conditions close to those that followed the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago.

The product of the collisions is captured in the collider's detectors and is analyzed by scientists at CERN and around the world for signs of new information about the cosmos and how it works at the elementary particle level. One of the scientists' aims is to determine the nature of unseen dark matter, which makes up about 80 percent of the total mass of the universe but has been detected only through its gravitational influence on visible objects.

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— Reuters and NBC News