Good news for all you high-energy physics fans: the problem electrical short at one of the Large Hadron Collider’s electromagnets has been fixed, clearing the way for protons to begin zooming around the 17 mile ring as early as this weekend.

NEWS: LHC Short Circuit Delays Awesome Physics Quest

After a two year hiatus for a significant power upgrade, it was hoped that the LHC would start circulating particle beams last week. Unfortunately, an electrical short delayed the restart, prompting fears that the delay could suspend operations for weeks or even months while a solution was found.

But after troubleshooting the issue, a small piece of metal debris was found in a diode box — a component of the electromagnet’s safety system — triggering a short with the magnet’s power supply. The debris originated from the upgrade work.

According to Nature News, on Monday, engineers sent an electrical discharge through the problem circuit, burning away the metal debris.

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“It’s a bit like deliberately blowing a fuse,” said Paul Collier, head of beams at CERN.

Today, after tests, engineers report that the fix has worked and now the short has cleared. There’s some more work that needs to be done before they can re-power the circuit again, but things are looking up. “We hope to be ready to take beam sometime during the weekend,” added Collier.

Sending an electrical discharge through the problem circuit prevented the need to warm up the cryogenic magnet and cool it back down again to 1.9 Kelvin (just above absolute zero) after the debris was manually removed. Such a procedure would have caused a lengthy delay.

NEWS: LHC Revs-Up for Most Powerful Particle Collisions Ever

Now we can start getting (re-)excited for the grand restart, kicking off the second run of the biggest and most powerful particle accelerator on the planet.

Run 2 will see proton beams blasting around the LHC at an energy of 6.5 TeV — providing collision energies of a whopping 13 TeV, nearly double the collision energy of the LHC’s first run. We are about to cross the threshold into a new regime for physics where there are high hopes for answering some of the biggest mysteries in modern science, including the origin of dark matter and the possibility of micro-black holes.

But perhaps the most exciting possibility is the LHC generating a signal we weren’t expecting, proving a glimpse into the truly exotic — perhaps triggering a revolution in our understanding of the universe.

Source: Nature News