Tuesday, January 27, 2009

When BRisk Goes Bust

In a nice counterpoint to my previous post on BRisk Management, the latest director of Europe's new atom-smasher (the LHC, which I'll be talking about next week), says he will be more cautious than his predecessor, following the very public failure last September.

An ultra-cold, superconducting magnet on the big ring, collapsed only days after the \$10 billion LHC was switched on and will require more than \$26 million in repairs. With that price tag (even though it's only half what Wall St. paid itself in bonuses last year---for assessing BRisk rather than risk?), the pressure is on for these guys to produce. So, it's not too surprising that the new director said:
"The LHC will be double checked by outside experts before any attempt is made to switch the machine back on, probably in July. I want to be sure that everything works, so I'll also let an external group make additional checks on the accelerator."
Let's compare and contrast with the Bay Bridge situation, shall we? According to the SF Chron:
"...the inspection outfit that sounded the alarm has since been replaced."
In other words, the independent, external inspectors, for the Bay Bridge welds, were terminated for being too pernickety, which would inflate the CalTrans schedule.

Nothing like a good failure to reduce the risk in BRisk. I just hope I'm not on the Bay Bridge when it happens.

Update: To catch up to its 2010 milestones, it has since been decided that the LHC will remain running, continuously, for one year after it's rebooted this summer.

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