Glitch Stalls Atom Smasher

By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2008 12:40 PM CDT
A 30-ton transformer tasked with cooling parts of the 17-mile Large Hadron Collider broke on Sept. 11, just a day after scientists turned it on%u2014though the glitch went unreported for a week.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Large Hadron Collider, the $5-billion, 17-mile experiment seeking answers to the universe’s deepest mysteries, hit a snag within hours of its Sept. 10 launch, but its overseer did not report the malfunction for a week, the Daily Telegraph reports. A 30-ton transformer in the cooling system broke, causing tests to cease just a day after it fired its first proton beam.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, the body overseeing the LHC, has replaced the transformer and cooled the tunnel beneath the Swiss-French border back to nearly absolute zero in preparation for the first particle collisions, expected in October. Tests will resume shortly as scientists hope to gain an increased understanding of how the universe formed in the moments after the Big Bang.