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The Large Hadron Collider: is it worth it? Answered

The Large Hadron Collider(LHC) is to be unveiled this year. It is designed to solve the much talked about energy crisis, and hopes to do so, but can it be worth all of it? From Wikipedia- (On October 25, 2005, a technician, José Pereira Lages, was killed in the LHC tunnel when a crane load was accidentally dropped. The construction of LHC was approved in 1995 with a budget of 2.6 billion Swiss francs, with another 210 millionfrancs (€140 M) towards the cost of the experiments. However, cost over-runs, estimated in a major review in 2001 at around 480 million francs (€300 M) for the accelerator, and 50 million francs (€30 M) for the experiments, along with a reduction in CERN's budget, pushed the completion date from 2005 to April 2007.[14] 180 million francs (€120 M) of the cost increase have been due to the superconducting magnets. There were also engineering difficulties encountered while building the underground cavern for the Compact Muon Solenoid. In part this was due to faulty parts lent to CERN by fellow laboratories Argonne National Laboratory or Fermilab (home to the Tevatron, the world's largest particle accelerator until CERN finishes the Large Hadron Collider). [15] The total cost of the project is anticipated to be between US$5 and US$10 billion.[2] On March 27, 2007, there was an incident during a pressure test involving one of the LHC's inner triplet magnet assemblies provided by Fermilab and KEK. No people were injured, but a cryogenic magnet support broke. Fermilab director Pier Oddone stated 'In this case we are dumbfounded that we missed some very simple balance of forces.' This fault had been present in the original design, and remained during four engineering reviews over the following years.[41] Analysis revealed that its design, made as thin as possible for better insulation, was not strong enough to withstand the forces generated during pressure testing. Details are available in a statement from Fermilab, with which CERN is in agreement.[42][43])



9 years ago

The costs you list are not particularly significant. Don't forget about the essentially circular nature of government spending; that 5-10 billion isn't money that just disappeared (compare to the 8+ TRILLION that has gone away in the stock market decline...); it employed a lot of people and resulted in a neat toy... And alas, one construction death in that many years is tiny. More people probably died driving to the work site...

If it finds or proves something important: Yes If it just lays there using up a lot of energy and achieving nothing: No

. I agree with TUA:
  • Why do you think they call it a test?
  • Work-related fatalities are often given as Deaths Per Million Man-Hours. I'm not sure what one death in, what, 10 years of construction would be in D/MM-h, but it's bound to be pretty low. IIRC, 9 D/MM-h is about "normal" for the construction industry in the US and around 3 D/MM-h for the oil and gas industry..
. And I agree with Kiteman: Yep. That's a LOT of money, but if it works, it will be worth it - it will either verify the current predictions (and we can move on) or destroy them (and we return to the drawing board).

Is it worth it? Yes.

Think about what? A pressure test found a design flaw? Isn't that what tests are supposed to find? One person died? We should stop all activity that may result in people dying? No, I refuse to "think about it", there's nothing here to "think about."