Now where did I put my sandwich? (credit: CERN)
By Michael Banks
The mystery surrounding the electrical fault last week at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN has taken a new twist today.
Last week, a piece of baguette was found to be lying on an electrical connection in one of the eight above-ground cryoplants – used to cool the LHC to 1.9 K – that caused two of the eight sectors around the LHC’s 27 km ring to heat up to 10 K.
But in the latest issue of the CERN Bulletin, James Gillies, head of communication at CERN, claims that a bird carrying a baguette did not stall the world’s most powerful particle-physics experiment from starting up on schedule.
“Of course, no such thing happened,” says Gillies. But he did admit that engineers at CERN do not fully understand how the heating occurred in the two sectors. “To this day, we do not know what caused the power cut,” he says.
However, Gillies, who was not at CERN when the incident happened, says it is true that “feathers and bread” were actually found at the site of the mystery electrical fault.
Could it be that someone intent on sabotaging the LHC has cleverly laid a decoy of feathers and bread?
Whatever the reason, Gillies is keen for the media to now focus on the LHC and the science it will produce once low-energy collisions begin early next month.
“Soon, the headlines should be turning from birds to b-quarks, and from baguettes to bosons,” he says. Well there is hope.