Exploring the secrets of the universe from the palm of your hand

September 14, 2017
What’s colder than outer space, buried 328 feet underground, and has a circumference of 17 miles?

By Kevin Price, Infor technical product evangelist

If your family is like mine, we spend most nights lingering around the dinner table discussing the Higgs boson particle. You know, the particle proposed in the 1960s and believed to have been found in 2012 – the “God particle”; the one hypothesized to give particles mass; the one that may hold the key to understanding why there is diversity and life in the universe.

The truth is that we’re more likely to be watching “America’s Got Talent,” but we should be discussing the Higgs boson instead. As particle physics goes, it’s a pretty fascinating story.

Equally amazing is the story of how scientists found this particle and continue to research the many questions that surround it. The discovery was made possible by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is the most powerful particle accelerator in the world. Operated by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, near Geneva, Switzerland, and said to be the largest and most complex machine ever built, the LHC:

  • Has a circumference of 27 kilometers (17 miles)
  • Is housed underground beneath 328 feet of dirt and rock
  • Is colder than outer space, cooling its superconducting electromagnets down
    to -271.3°C
  • Allows high-energy particle beams to travel at close to the speed of light
  • Took nearly 30 years to build

Maintaining the world's largest and most complex machine

So how does CERN keep a machine made up of an estimated 100 million components operating at optimal levels? With the help of Infor, a global provider of enterprise software solutions. They rely on Infor’s ERP software to manage the supply chain for the complex web of components and parts needed to keep the LHC operational and on Infor’s asset management software to help the LHC operate at optimal levels.

And that management goes far beyond the LHC itself. CERN must also maintain tunnels, caverns, roads, parking lots, electricity, water, cooling and ventilation systems, access control, machine tools, lifting equipment, and more.

As a result of its partnership with Infor, CERN has been able to achieve 98% uptime for the LHC, while increasing availability by 5%, and reducing maintenance requirements by half. This video shows more on Infor’s work with CERN.

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