The Large Hadron Collider restart has been delayed following a short circuit in electrical equipment within the massive device. The supercollider was originally shut down two years ago for an upgrade to be completed.
When researchers tried to restart the particle collider, a short circuit occurred in one of the massive magnets used to steer charged particles around the doughnut-shaped track.
Physicists planned to direct two beams of protons around the track, in opposite directions, preparing for collisions between groups of subatomic particles. If the delay had not occurred and experiments went on as scheduled, the first collisions would have taken place this May.
This delay could keep the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) collider offline for a few weeks before the machine can be switched back on.
"All the signs are good for a great run 2. In the grand scheme of things, a few weeks delay in humankind's quest to understand our universe is little more than the blink of an eye," Rolf Heuer, director general of CERN, said.
The main ring at the supercollider measures 17 miles from one side to another, and the new experiments were planned to operate at twice the energy level possible before the retrofit. The short circuit occurred in one of the eight main sections of the collider. This part of the device is in a "cold" section, meaning repairs will likely entail warming the area, carrying out the repair and cooling it down once more.
"So what would have taken hours in a warm machine could end up taking us weeks," Frederick Bordry, director for accelerators, told the press.
The LHC is the largest, most powerful particle accelerator ever built. The large size of the collider and the extreme energies in the machine are designed to recreate conditions that existed immediately after the Big Bang.
In 2012, researchers announced the discovery of the Higgs boson, a particle thought to provide matter with mass.
The upgrade to the LHC could allow researchers to learn more about dark matter, an invisible form of "stuff" that far exceeds the amount of ordinary matter in the universe. Although it cannot be seen, gravity from dark matter still yields an influence on stars and galaxies.
This was not the first time there has been a mechanical failure at the LHC. In 2008, a faulty connection caused magnets to build up heat and melt, shutting down the collider just nine days after the facility opened.