Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

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Arete
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Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Arete » Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:54 pm UTC

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/hadron-collider-to-be-closed-amid-fears-of-a-very-big-bang-1919450.html


The world's single most complicated and expensive scientific experiment, designed to discover the "God particle" and recreate the conditions that existed at the dawn of creation, will be switched off for a year to correct a design problem that could break it apart if it ran on full power... "I wouldn't call it a design flaw. It is just that some of the copper stabilisers are not up to the quality needed to go to the full energy level," said Steve Myers, director of accelerators and technology at Cern... Dr Myers said that following the emergency shutdown in September 2008, engineers found that the joints holding the copper stabilisers were not strong enough to withstand the full energy levels of the machine, designed to run at a maximum level of 14TeV (14 million million electron Volts). "The joints were not made to a sufficient standard. We learnt how to correct the problem as a result of the 2008 accident," he said.




Engineers' comments welcome ;)

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Hawknc » Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:06 pm UTC

It's not a design flaw if the issue is in the manufacturing quality of the joints. That's one of the inherent risks with unique projects like this - you don't have the advantage of repetition to fix issues. As they say, even running at half power it's still four times more powerful than any other particle accelerator, so it's disappointing but not entirely unexpected that it's going to have teething issues.
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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Gellert1984 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 1:45 pm UTC

Isnt this old news? I thought they said when they started it back up that it'd have to go down again to resolve the copper cable thing.
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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Arete » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:07 pm UTC

Hawknc wrote:It's not a design flaw if the issue is in the manufacturing quality of the joints. That's one of the inherent risks with unique projects like this - you don't have the advantage of repetition to fix issues. As they say, even running at half power it's still four times more powerful than any other particle accelerator, so it's disappointing but not entirely unexpected that it's going to have teething issues.



I thought that over-specification on a project like this would be a sensible precaution? They knew the projected power output beforehand, so wasn't material testing done?

Down for an entire year only two years into the project is a lot of down time.

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Fume Troll » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:23 pm UTC

Disappointing but certainly not surprising. They are essentially testing the biggest, most complicated, most expensive prototype ever*.

I wonder if they'll find a logistical way to do anything with it at lower energies, in between changing out joints.

*probably.

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby tzvibish » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:29 pm UTC

We should all just be relieved they caught this before running at full power.

Also, nothing this huge is going to be perfect. It just isn't possible. At least this is something that just requires replacing, and not a fatal flaw.
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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Hawknc » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:48 pm UTC

Arete wrote:I thought that over-specification on a project like this would be a sensible precaution? They knew the projected power output beforehand, so wasn't material testing done?

Down for an entire year only two years into the project is a lot of down time.

Quality can be controlled at both the design stage and the manufacturing stage. The article is pretty vague about the specifics; you could read it either as a failure to account for the power needs during design, or a failure to manufacture to design specs. As I said, these are things you normally catch through a few prototype phases, but that's not really possible on this scale.
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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Arete » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:04 pm UTC

Hawknc wrote: As I said, these are things you normally catch through a few prototype phases, but that's not really possible on this scale.



This does scare me; I have high hopes that one day we might build, say, a space elevator.

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Azrael » Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:23 pm UTC

Fume Troll wrote:I wonder if they'll find a logistical way to do anything with it at lower energies, in between changing out joints.

The length of the down time for this and the previous repair is significantly effected by having to bring the entire system back to workable temperatures and then cool the huge mass back down to superconducting temps (down around absolute zero). Thus, once it comes offline, nothing is going to happen until it's back online with the latest repairs.

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Jorpho » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:18 am UTC

The Article wrote:-271.C: The temperature of the supercooled magnets in the LHC, making it colder than anything in the known universe and only just above absolute zero
That can't be right! Especially since absolute zero is -273.

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby masher » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:23 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
The Article wrote:-271.C: The temperature of the supercooled magnets in the LHC, making it colder than anything in the known universe and only just above absolute zero
That can't be right! Especially since absolute zero is -273.


The background radiation of the universe corresponds to a blackbody temperature of 2.725 K.

2 K is colder than this.

2 degrees, in common parlance, is equal to "just".

So, pretty much, yes. It is colder than pretty much everything. Apart from the other physics experiments in the world.

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Jorpho » Fri Mar 12, 2010 3:31 am UTC

masher wrote:So, pretty much, yes. It is colder than pretty much everything. Apart from the other physics experiments in the world.
Well, yeah. Those take place in the known universe - and I'd say they are just above absolute zero.

Admittedly, I would have thought interstellar space would be a lot closer to zero.

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Vaniver » Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:04 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
masher wrote:So, pretty much, yes. It is colder than pretty much everything. Apart from the other physics experiments in the world.
Well, yeah. Those take place in the known universe - and I'd say they are just above absolute zero.

Admittedly, I would have thought interstellar space would be a lot closer to zero.
Yeah, interstellar space isn't as cold as a Bose-Einstein Condensate in a trap in a lab somewhere. That said, it is colder than most, if not all, non-manmade things.
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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Fri Mar 12, 2010 5:51 am UTC

Hmm. Because asking humans I trust works better than Google: I've heard that a vacuum actually works really well as insulation. How does this interact with the apparent coldness of space?
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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Jorpho » Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:00 am UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Hmm. Because asking humans I trust works better than Google: I've heard that a vacuum actually works really well as insulation.
Indeed; there's nothing to transfer heat from stuff on one side of a vacuum to the other.
How does this interact with the apparent coldness of space?
There's an awful lot of space, such that the temperature is still pretty low once the heat is diffused through it.

I suppose that depending on how you look at it, the concept of "temperature" has no meaning in an absolute vacuum.

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby The Reaper » Fri Mar 12, 2010 6:03 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Hmm. Because asking humans I trust works better than Google: I've heard that a vacuum actually works really well as insulation.
Indeed; there's nothing to transfer heat from stuff on one side of a vacuum to the other.
How does this interact with the apparent coldness of space?
There's an awful lot of space, such that the temperature is still pretty low once the heat is diffused through it.

I suppose that depending on how you look at it, the concept of "temperature" has no meaning in an absolute vacuum.

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Aardvarki » Wed Mar 17, 2010 6:23 pm UTC

Does it bother anyone else that in the article, the Director of Accelerators and Technology at Cern is QUOTED as saying "I wouldn't call it a design flaw.", yet the reporter STILL used the phrase "12-month shutdown to repair design flaw" in the SUBTITLE OF THE ARTICLE!?!?!?!

The way reporters ignore some information and just report whatever they want bothers me greatly.
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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby feedme » Wed Mar 17, 2010 7:10 pm UTC

Aardvarki wrote:Does it bother anyone else that in the article, the Director of Accelerators and Technology at Cern is QUOTED as saying "I wouldn't call it a design flaw.", yet the reporter STILL used the phrase "12-month shutdown to repair design flaw" in the SUBTITLE OF THE ARTICLE!?!?!?!

The way reporters ignore some information and just report whatever they want bothers me greatly.



Yeah, that is annoying. I guess it could mean that because it wasn't to the quality they needed, it was a design flaw, but I think the 'spirit' of that saying is that its CERN's fault, and not the manufacturer. Either way, running at half power is still more powerful than the other ones around world (I think).

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Aikanaro » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:13 am UTC

Spoilered for illogical religious rambling:
Spoiler:
Y'know, in a weird way, I find it kind of comforting that it keeps breaking down. See, I have this theory that it's stupid to try and avoid certain research on the basis that "there are things Man was not meant to know." If we're not MEANT to know it, then by definition, whenever we try to learn it, we're gonna fail, QED, so there's no harm in trying beyond maybe wasting a little time and effort. If someone were of the opinion that 1: The LHC can potentially destroy the world/universe/line of comic books that we're all featured in, and 2: God does not wish for this to happen, then it means that any time the thing is going to do something that would end up destroying the world, a minor "miracle" will happen, and it's gonna break again, without any human intervention being necessary. I think someone on these fora also mentioned the possibility that, as we move through the various potential realities, the only ones left for us to experience are those in which it DOESN'T destroy the world. Either way, just kinda funny to think about.
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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Jorpho » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:27 am UTC

Aikanaro wrote:Spoilered for illogical religious rambling:
Spoiler:
Y'know, in a weird way, I find it kind of comforting that it keeps breaking down. See, I have this theory that it's stupid to try and avoid certain research on the basis that "there are things Man was not meant to know." If we're not MEANT to know it, then by definition, whenever we try to learn it, we're gonna fail, QED, so there's no harm in trying beyond maybe wasting a little time and effort. If someone were of the opinion that 1: The LHC can potentially destroy the world/universe/line of comic books that we're all featured in, and 2: God does not wish for this to happen, then it means that any time the thing is going to do something that would end up destroying the world, a minor "miracle" will happen, and it's gonna break again, without any human intervention being necessary. I think someone on these fora also mentioned the possibility that, as we move through the various potential realities, the only ones left for us to experience are those in which it DOESN'T destroy the world. Either way, just kinda funny to think about.

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Kain » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:43 am UTC

Aardvarki wrote:Does it bother anyone else that in the article, the Director of Accelerators and Technology at Cern is QUOTED as saying "I wouldn't call it a design flaw.", yet the reporter STILL used the phrase "12-month shutdown to repair design flaw" in the SUBTITLE OF THE ARTICLE!?!?!?!

The way reporters ignore some information and just report whatever they want bothers me greatly.


Just an aside: headlines are most often done by an editor, rather than the reporter. Its been too long since I've taken a journalism class, but if I recall correctly, editors may also change the subtitles. Thus, the reporter might not be to blame for what I agree is a disingenuous, misleading introduction to the article.
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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:45 am UTC

Aikanaro wrote:Spoilered for illogical religious rambling:
Spoiler:
Y'know, in a weird way, I find it kind of comforting that it keeps breaking down. See, I have this theory that it's stupid to try and avoid certain research on the basis that "there are things Man was not meant to know." If we're not MEANT to know it, then by definition, whenever we try to learn it, we're gonna fail, QED, so there's no harm in trying beyond maybe wasting a little time and effort. If someone were of the opinion that 1: The LHC can potentially destroy the world/universe/line of comic books that we're all featured in, and 2: God does not wish for this to happen, then it means that any time the thing is going to do something that would end up destroying the world, a minor "miracle" will happen, and it's gonna break again, without any human intervention being necessary. I think someone on these fora also mentioned the possibility that, as we move through the various potential realities, the only ones left for us to experience are those in which it DOESN'T destroy the world. Either way, just kinda funny to think about.

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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby podbaydoor » Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:58 am UTC

Kain wrote:
Aardvarki wrote:Does it bother anyone else that in the article, the Director of Accelerators and Technology at Cern is QUOTED as saying "I wouldn't call it a design flaw.", yet the reporter STILL used the phrase "12-month shutdown to repair design flaw" in the SUBTITLE OF THE ARTICLE!?!?!?!

The way reporters ignore some information and just report whatever they want bothers me greatly.


Just an aside: headlines are most often done by an editor, rather than the reporter. Its been too long since I've taken a journalism class, but if I recall correctly, editors may also change the subtitles. Thus, the reporter might not be to blame for what I agree is a disingenuous, misleading introduction to the article.

As a current reporter, I can confirm this is true. Sometimes it's not even the editor doing the headlines/subtitles, it's whichever IT monkey they've got posting the stories online.
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Re: Hadron Collider offline (again) and bad design

Postby Fume Troll » Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:30 am UTC

Azrael wrote:
Fume Troll wrote:I wonder if they'll find a logistical way to do anything with it at lower energies, in between changing out joints.

The length of the down time for this and the previous repair is significantly effected by having to bring the entire system back to workable temperatures and then cool the huge mass back down to superconducting temps (down around absolute zero). Thus, once it comes offline, nothing is going to happen until it's back online with the latest repairs.


Makes sense, thanks.


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