It took 15 years and $9 billion to build, but since its massively hyped debut in September, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland hasn't collided any particles at all. Physicists in Europe are certain the 17-mile machine will eventually produce revolutionary science, on everything from dark matter to extra dimensions. After fixing thousands of bad electrical connections, engineers expect the Hadron Collider to be up again by winter, but it could be years before the machine works at full strength.
Many researchers, frustrated at the slow pace, have abandoned the project for a smaller competitor in Illinois. As the New York Times reports, the faltering of CERN's mega-machine has helped to slow a brain drain of physicists from America to Europe, particularly younger scholars who need to work toward tenure. "The public pays for this," says one CERN physicist, "and we need to start delivering."