Large Hadron Collider ‘to shut down for a year’
The Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest atom smasher, will shut down for a year to repair mistakes that were made in its construction.
Dr Steve Myers, a director of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), which built the collider, said the machine will close at the end of 2011.
The collider is expected to reach world record power later this month at 7 trillion electron volts (TeV) in its bid to replicate the big bang that started the universe.
But Dr Myers told the BBC that the faults will delay the machine reaching its full potential of 14TeV for two years.
"It's something that, with a lot more resources and with a lot more manpower and quality control, possibly could have been avoided but I have difficulty in thinking that this is something that was a design error," he said.
"The standard phrase is that the LHC is its own prototype. We are pushing technologies towards their limits."
"You don't hear about the thousands or hundreds of thousands of other areas that have gone incredibly well.
"With a machine like the LHC, you only build one and you only build it once."
It is the latest in a series of setbacks for the world's largest machine, which was first launched in September 2008 amid an international fanfare.
But just nine days later, the €5.5bn LHC suffered a spectacular failure from a bad electrical connection.
Fifty-three of 1,624 large superconducting magnets - some of them 50 feet long - were damaged and had to be replaced.
Then in November 2009, it emerged that further problems had been caused by a small piece of baguette dropped by a passing bird which landed in a piece of equipment on the surface above the accelerator ring.