Friday, December 05, 2008

The Poetry Of Science

This is the official explanation of the September malfunction of the "Large Hadron Collider" at CERN in Geneva. It is obviously a phenomenally complicated bit of equipment- but this 'explanation' reminds me of the typical Star-Trek babble used to explain away flimsy plot resolutions: "Captain i managed to reprogram the fusion generators by re-routing the di-lithium crystal manifold .. blah blah". If you read it as poetry i think you'll agree there is some elegance to it:

Within the first second,
an electrical arc developed

and punctured the helium enclosure,
leading to release of helium into the insulation vacuum of the cryostat.
The spring-loaded relief discs on the vacuum enclosure opened
when the pressure exceeded atmospheric,
thus relieving the helium to the tunnel.
They were however unable to contain the pressure rise
below the nominal 0.15 MPa absolute
in the vacuum enclosures of subsector 23-25,
thus resulting in large pressure forces acting on the vacuum barriers
separating neighboring subsectors,
which most probably damaged them.
These forces displaced dipoles
in the subsectors affected from their cold internal supports,
and knocked the Short Straight Section cryostats
housing the quadrupoles and vacuum barriers
from their external support jacks
at positions Q23, Q27 and Q31,
in some locations breaking their anchors
in the concrete floor of the tunnel.
The displacement of the Short Straight Section cryostats
also damaged the “jumper” connections
to the cryogenic distribution line,
but without rupture of the transverse vacuum barriers
equipping these jumper connections,
so that the insulation vacuum
in the cryogenic line
not degrade.

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