News: Improbable Coincidence Slows LHC Repairs

byZack_M_Davis9y6th Nov 200928 comments

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Related to: How Many LHC Failures is Too Many?

My first reaction to this was that it had to be a joke, but I thought Less Wrong readers would like to know that The Times of London is reporting that repairs on the Large Hadron Collider have been delayed by overheating caused by a piece of bread, possibly dropped by a bird:

The rehabilitation of the beleaguered Large Hadron Collider was on hold tonight after the failure of one of its powerful cooling units caused by an errant chunk of baguette.

The £4 billion particle-collider faced more than a year of delays after a helium leak stymied the project in its first few days of operation. It is gradually being switched back on over the coming months but suffered a new setback on Tuesday morning.

Scientists at the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva noticed that the system’s carefully monitored temperatures were creeping up.

Further investigation into the failure of a cryogenic cooling plant revealed an unusual impediment. A piece of crusty bread had paralysed a high voltage installation that should have been powering the cooling unit. [...]

A spokeswoman for CERN confirmed that baguette was responsible for the latest hiatus, but she conceded that mystery surrounded the way it got into the vital power installation, which is protected by high security fences.

“Nobody knows how it got there,” she told The Times. “The best guess is that it was dropped by a bird, either that or it was thrown out of a passing aeroplane.”

“Obviously this was slightly surprising. Within the team there was some amusement once they had relaxed after initial concerns.”

I'm rather confident that this is just a meaningless coincidence, but in light of the anthropic speculations last year about the LHC's technical difficulties, I thought this was worth sharing.

Hat tip MBlume