Wednesday, October 02, 2019

A boring history of LEP, and next the FHC

"LEP’s tunnel, the longest-ever attempted prior to the Channel Tunnel, which links France and Britain, was carved by three tunnel-boring machines. Disaster struck just two kilometres into the three-kilometre stretch of tunnel in the foothills of the Jura, where the rock had to be blasted because it was not suitable for boring. Water burst in and formed an underground river that took six months to eliminate"

In 1993 we noticed even more peculiar random variations on the energy signal during the day – with the exception of a few hours in the middle of the night when the signal was noise free. Everybody had their own pet theory. I believed it was some sort of effect coming from planes interacting with the electrical supply cables. Some nights later I could be seen sitting in a car park on the Jura at 2 a.m., trying to prove my theory with visual observations, but it was very dark and all the planes had stopped landing several hours beforehand. Experiment inconclusive! The real culprit, the TGV (a high-speed train), was discovered by accident a few weeks later during a discussion with a railway engineer: leakage currents on the French rail track flowed through the LEP vacuum chamber with the return path via the Versoix river back to Cornavin. The noise hadn’t been evident when we first measured the beam energy as TGV workers had been on strike.


took a look inside the beampipe using mirrors and endoscopes. Not seeing anything, I frustratedly squeezed my head between the vacuum flanges and peered down inside the pipe. In the distance was something resembling a green concave lens. “This looks like the bottom of a beer bottle,” I thought, restraining myself from uttering a word to anyone in the vicinity. I went to the opposite open end of the vacuum section and peered into the vacuum pipe again: a green circular disk this time, but again, not a word. Someone got a long pole to poke out the offending article – out it came, and my guess was correct: it was a Heineken beer bottle, which had indeed refreshed the parts no other beer could reach, as the slogan ran. A hasty search revealed a second bottle. Upon closer inspection it was clear that the control room operators had almost succeeded in making the beam circulate despite the obstacles: there was a scorch burn along the label, indicating that they had almost managed to steer the beam past the bottles.

And what will the future hold? "Digging a 5.6 m-diameter hole disturbs rock that has been there for millennia, causing it to relax and to move."

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