Now I know that colliding subatomic particles and creating miniature black holes in a controlled environment is the sort of thing that you want to make sure you’re getting right, lest you, y’know, annihilate all life as we know it.

But there’s something to be said for a sense of urgency, something that scientists at Europe’s CERN laboratories don’t appear to be laboring under with regard to the Large Hadron Collider. At over 17 miles long, the LHC is the biggest and most powerful particle accelerator, and would almost certainly be among the new technological wonders of the world – if it could operate for more than a week and a half without breaking down in truly staggering fashion. After firing a successful proton beam in September of last year, a short in the LHC’s system brought it low for what was supposed to be a matter of months. Then it was going to be offline until June, in the interest of leaving enough energy for France and Switzerland to have heat during the winter. 

The latest setback pushes the restart date back to September 2009, meaning that those of us who are waiting with baited breath to see proof of the Higgs Boson – and we are legion – will have to wait until fall of 2010. Unless someone beats them to it, which while not necessarily likely, is far from impossible. For more on that, you can get a much more technically rigorous look at the past, present and possible future of the search for the Holy Grail of particle physics over at the excellent Quantum Diaries.

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