Leading article: High maintenance

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The search for the "God particle" will have to wait a while longer. The Large Hadron Collider in Geneva is to be switched off for a year at the end of 2011 in order to correct a design problem.

Joints between the machine's giant magnets need to be strengthened before the Collider can live up to its name and start smashing atoms together at (just below) the speed of light. Until then, the LHC will run on half power.

The story at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (Cern), where the LHC is domiciled, is becoming rather repetitive: overoptimistic timetables, high expenditure, reduced service, endless maintenance work, a giant circle around which it is proving exceedingly difficult to force things to travel.

The God particle might be proving elusive but another particle of thought is emerging: could the engineers at Cern be the same as those in charge of the London Underground?

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