CERN says atom-smasher back in operation

Friday, Sept 19, 2008

The world's largest particle collider was running again Friday after an electrical fault forced it to stop just days after being launched to global fanfare, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) said.

The problem affected a cooling system for high-powered magnets designed to steer beams of particles around the Large Hadron Collider's 27-kilometre (16.9-mile) circular tunnel, CERN said.

CERN spokesman James Gillies told AFP a 30-tonne transformer in the cooling system failed Thursday last week and it had taken about a week to replace the equipment and get temperatures back to their required state.

The steering magnets in the LHC tunnel are chilled to as low as -271 degrees Celsius (-456.25 degrees Fahrenheit), which is close to absolute zero and colder than deep outer space.

"In layman's terms, the LHC is a great big fridge, and part of the power supply failed," he said.

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