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Electrical fault halts "Big Bang" machine

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's most powerful particle accelerator, was temporarily shut down earlier this week.

This content was published on September 18, 2008 - 15:56

Scientists at the European Centre for Particle Physics (Cern) in Geneva said a failure in the power transformer had affected the facility's refrigeration plant, which meant that protons could no longer be beamed round the facility.

The collider ring has to be cooled to a temperature of minus 271.3 Celsius so the protons can travel round the accelerator at more than 99.99 per cent of the speed of light.

Cern said on Thursday that the electrical fault had been fixed, and the refrigeration chamber was being cooled down again. They were unable to say exactly when beaming would restart.

The purpose of the LHC experiment, the most expensive in history, is to recreate the conditions one trillionth of a second after the Big Bang and thus help scientists understand the formation of the universe.

The 27-kilometre machine spans the border between Switzerland and France. Before it was launched on September 10, rumours abounded that the experiment would cause the world to end.

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