Large Hadron Collider gets warning system upgrade

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London, September 29 (ANI): Reports indicate that an early warning system is being installed at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which could prevent incidents of the kind which shut the machine last year.

The vast physics lab is built inside a 27km-long circular tunnel straddling the French-Swiss border near Geneva.

The helium leak last September, which resulted from a "faulty splice" between magnets, has delayed the start of science operations by more than a year.

Officials aim to re-start the collider in mid-November.

The collider has been shut down since September 19, 2008, when a magnet problem called a "quench" caused a tonne of liquid helium to leak into the LHC tunnel.

An investigation carried out for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (Cern), confirmed the cause of the accident was an electrical fault in one of the splices, or "interconnects", linking two of the 1,200 "superconducting" magnets that accelerate particles around the LHC.

Superconductivity is the property, exhibited by some materials at very low temperatures, to channel electrical current with zero resistance and very little power loss.

A quench occurs when part of a magnet heats up, causing its superconducting properties to be lost.

Engineers have been making major upgrades to the system designed to protect hardware against these events.hey have had to install hundreds of new detectors around the machine.

According to a report in BBC News, among other things, the upgraded quench protection system is expected to improve monitoring of the interconnects between magnets.

"It will allow us to constantly monitor the status of the interconnections. If there is any deterioration detected by the system, the powering of the magnets will be automatically stopped, preventing any damage," Gianluigi Arduini, deputy head of hardware commissioning for the LHC, told BBC News.

James Gillies, CERN's director of communications, said this would prevent the kind of damage which occurred in 2008.

"Last year, we didn't see this thing coming," he told BBC News.

With the improved warning system, he added, "We would be looking at downtime of a matter of weeks, rather than a year... we're in a much better place than we were 12 months ago."

Arduini said the upgraded system was currently undergoing testing in one of the LHC's sectors. (ANI)

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