PREVESSIN, France, April 20 (Reuters) – Scientists at Europe's physics research centre will this week fire up the 27 kilometer-long Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the machine that found the Higgs boson particle, after a shutdown for maintenance and upgrades was prolonged by COVID-19 delays.
Restarting the collider is a complex procedure, and researchers at the CERN centre have champagne on hand if all goes well, ready to join a row of bottles in the control room celebrating landmarks including the discovery of the elusive subatomic particle a decade ago.
“It's not flipping a button,” Rende Steerenberg, in charge of control room operations, told Reuters. “This comes with a certain sense of tension, nervousness.”
Potential pitfalls include the discovery of an obstruction; the shrinking of materials due to a nearly 300 degree temperature swing; and difficulties with thousands of magnets that help keep billions of particles in a tight beam as they circle the collider tunnel beneath the Swiss-French border.
Steerenberg said the system had to work “like an orchestra.”