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Science

LHC To Idle All Accelerators In 2012 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the there-goes-that-prophecy dept.
sciencehabit writes "Particle physicists and science fans everywhere knew that the European particle physics laboratory, CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland, would shut down the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest atom smasher, for all of 2012 for repairs. Many expected that the shutdown would stretch to more than a year, which CERN officials confirmed today. But most probably did not expect CERN to idle all its other accelerators at the same time, shutting down a variety of smaller projects and forcing hundreds of scientists not working on the LHC to take an unanticipated break in data taking. The longer shutdown could be a chance for US scientists working on the Tevatron at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, if researchers there can persuade lab management to keep the machine going instead of shutting it down in 2011 as currently planned." Reader suraj.sun notes other CERN news making the rounds right now about plans for the International Linear Collider, a 31-kilometer-long collider designed to complement the LHC. Construction on the ILC could begin as soon as 2012.
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LHC To Idle All Accelerators In 2012

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  • Relief... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mconeone (765767) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:09PM (#33034892)
    I guess we won't have to worry about 12-21-2012 after all.
    • by mikael_j (106439)

      They're trying to change the profecy but it will fail, somehow some bored lab tech will manage to start the accelerator and cause the end of the universe anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by starglider29a (719559)
      It's a self-UN-fulfilling prophecy... just like when computer makers began rounding up to 667MHz processors. Apparently, 66Mhz, 266MHz, 466MHz needed to be rounded down, but they had to round up 666.
    • by topham (32406)

      I'm wondering if they decided the terrorist threats would be insurmountable in 2012 so they thought they'd take the opportunity to do needed repairs instead.

      Does seem weird.

    • by Torodung (31985) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:36PM (#33036240) Journal

      No! That's exactly what the Mayans would have us believe, from their time traveling relative dimension pocket near the Andromeda galaxy. The only way to prevent the catastrophic end of the B'ak'tun is to RUN the Large Hadron Collider and create a Higgs Boson that will counteract all the neutrino emissions from the sun.

      For the love of god, we must run the LHC or we may yet pass through the CGI event horizon, our imaginations running wild, causing the ruination of all the good creatures and the ultimate victory of the Woodland Critters!

      (Oof. Perhaps I shouldn't have watched the John Cusack 2012 movie and South Park back to back on Netflix last night?)

      --
      Toro

    • by f3rret (1776822)

      How do you know that shutting the LHC down isn't going to be what causes the apocalypse? Maybe the events that will eventually cause the end of life as we know it have already been set in motion and are only kept in check by the fact the LHC is running.

      Just sayin' man.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Incidentally, should they fire it up in 2012 because they completed the necessary maintenance earlier than expected, that's when we know the world's going to end.

    • That is the date for them to power things back up. Gotta prepare for that big bang ya know, have everything in perfect condition to create the end of the world.

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      I guess we won't have to worry about 12-21-2012 after all.

      Errr, since my level of worry about 2012-12-21 (ISO format date) was precisely zero above (or below) my worry about any randomly selected day of the week, does your reassurance mean that I can now be (guardedly) optimistic about that date?

      What the hell is so special about that date anyway? It's not palindromic, unless you're in a locale that uses MM-YYYY-DD ; oh no, it's not even palindromic then. Does it spell something rude when typed into a base-1

    • I couldn't believe my ears this past weekend when I heard people discussing how scary 21-12-2012 is going to be because they read all the "facts" about it. Needless to say, I lost a lot of faith in humanity that day.
  • by easterberry (1826250) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:14PM (#33034990)
    "we're supposed to shut it down for maintenance"
    "No! This is our only chance to beat CERN! While they're still doing repairs!
    "You have to stop, the numbers! They're not stable!"
    "Almost there... almost there..."
    "GORDON! GET OUT OF THERE!"
    *green electrical storm*
    "My god... I never thought I'd see a resonance cascade, let alone create one!"

    and that's it people. We sent the crowbar to CERN. We're doomed.
  • And here I was hoping they would end the world!
  • by jaymz2k4 (790806) <(jaymz) (at) (jaymz.eu)> on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:18PM (#33035060) Homepage
    It might be essential but it saddens me a bit how much of a let down the LHC has been. Fermliab however has been a real story of inspiration. I hope we see results from Geneva in the future but so far it's not exactly been inspiring stuff and this decision to shut down everything sounds a bit OTT.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by localman57 (1340533)
      Yeah. The news is all like: "Hey, did you hear about the new collider? It's like the largest ever and stuff." "Really? Does it work?" "No, but if it did, I bet it'd be really cool."
    • by bucky0 (229117) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:24PM (#33035182)

      You're comparing apples and oranges. All of these big experiments have things they need to get to get worked out before they're running at their design strength. That's the problem with building machines that are their own prototypes.

      I can't speak for all of them, but the detector I work on has been performing excellently (all its detector subsystems, etc..). There was a flaw in some of the accelerator magnets of the main LHC ring, and it needs to be fixed, which involves warming up and cooling down the magnets (which takes 3 months each eway)

      Fermilab, by comparison has been running for something like 20 years, they did their shakedown phase a long time ago, and now they're tuned to run optimally. It's the lifecycle of these things.

      • by Facegarden (967477) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:36PM (#33035350)

        You're comparing apples and oranges. All of these big experiments have things they need to get to get worked out before they're running at their design strength. That's the problem with building machines that are their own prototypes.

        I can't speak for all of them, but the detector I work on has been performing excellently (all its detector subsystems, etc..). There was a flaw in some of the accelerator magnets of the main LHC ring, and it needs to be fixed, which involves warming up and cooling down the magnets (which takes 3 months each eway)

        Fermilab, by comparison has been running for something like 20 years, they did their shakedown phase a long time ago, and now they're tuned to run optimally. It's the lifecycle of these things.

        You're totally right, but I wish the planners took that kind of thinking into account. They all said this would be up and running 5 years ago, for much less cost than it has accrued.

        http://public.web.cern.ch/press/PressReleases/Releases1996/PR09.96ECouncil96.html [web.cern.ch]

        That was from 1996, so I understand this stuff changes, but it *always* goes over time and over budget. Can't the planners be a bit more realistic? Right now you're saying "look, these things happen," but before they said "these things won't happen." At least, i feel like thats how it goes. I haven't been too involved so someone let me know if I'm wrong.

        I guess the politicians are weary enough and these things are hard to get funding for, so people want to over promise a bit, but it just leaves a bad taste in people's mouths.

        Personally i think this stuff is worth way more money than wars and bailouts and whatnot, so I'm not complaining about the funding, i just think that these things constantly going over budget is the whole reason politicians are reluctant to buy in in the first place!
        -Taylor

        • by localman57 (1340533) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:38PM (#33035386)

          That was from 1996, so I understand this stuff changes, but it *always* goes over time and over budget. Can't the planners be a bit more realistic?

          The planners who give realistic budgets never get their project built. The money ends up going to the guy who gave an unrealistic budget, an the illusion of a much better value.

          • That was from 1996, so I understand this stuff changes, but it *always* goes over time and over budget. Can't the planners be a bit more realistic?

            The planners who give realistic budgets never get their project built. The money ends up going to the guy who gave an unrealistic budget, an the illusion of a much better value.

            Yeah. I guess even if the politicians *know* it will go over budget, if the public doesn't realize it, they'll still look good.

            Still frustrating, but its how people work i guess.
            -Taylor

        • by f3rret (1776822)

          That was from 1996, so I understand this stuff changes, but it *always* goes over time and over budget. Can't the planners be a bit more realistic?
          -Taylor

          Well that cannot really budget for accidents really. I mean you build the thing as close to the limits of your budget, then something breaks and you have no choice to go over budget.

          • That was from 1996, so I understand this stuff changes, but it *always* goes over time and over budget. Can't the planners be a bit more realistic?
            -Taylor

            Well that cannot really budget for accidents really. I mean you build the thing as close to the limits of your budget, then something breaks and you have no choice to go over budget.

            I've never been part of a large, long budget project, but I get the idea that since accidents are unavoidable, people *have* to budget for accidents and unforeseen circumstances, or every budget ever would be over time.

            Obviously many people fail to do this, but you'd expect people throwing around tens of billions of dollars to have enough experience to allow time for unforeseen circumstances, if they're being honest.

            I mean, if they have to bring the thing up to ambient temp, they're down a *minimum* of 6 mo

        • If you ask them to approve 100 dollars and 20 years for your project, they'll say no. So you go for 50 bucks, and say you can have it ready in 2 months.

          2 Months later, you say you need "some more time" because something "unexpected" happened, and you'll need another 20 bucks. Or they can just shut down and loose 50 bucks and 2 months of work. So they say yes, and go ahead.

          It is the *ONLY* way to do certain things. Because people with power is stupid.

      • You at CMS or ATLAS?
        • by bucky0 (229117)

          You at CMS or ATLAS?

          I don't like to get into it too much online but, as a hint, I can see the tevatron ring from my office.

      • I was in the tunnels at Fermilab a few years ago - friend of a friend tour. They were shut down for months doing maintenance and upgrades. It's not like they've been running non-stop or unchanged since they first started up. By contrast, LHC has yet to get to the "first light" phase; as others have said, kind of disappointing.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:40PM (#33035434) Homepage

      It might be essential but it saddens me a bit how much of a let down the LHC has been. Fermliab however has been a real story of inspiration. I hope we see results from Geneva in the future but so far it's not exactly been inspiring stuff and this decision to shut down everything sounds a bit OTT.

      The LHC has beaten the Tevatron for the record of highest energy collision which was around 1 TeV, and they've since completed collisions at 3.5 TeV. True, that's half the planned capability of 7 TeV and they're way behind the original timeline, but the LHC has already broken new ground. Before they shut down they hope to have a decent amount of 3.5 TeV data, then fix shit and still hit their target. I wish all my failures were that good, particularly if I was doing bleeding-edge science no one has done before. I did remember a story about one of the scientists working on that Mars probe that crashed due to the feet/meter thing, she'd been working on it for 7 years which went up in a ball of fire. Now that's failure.

      • by ozbird (127571) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:47PM (#33037310)
        You're off by a factor of 2. The individual beams are currently running at 3.5 TeV; the collisions are at 7 TeV. The goal is to ramp up to 7 TeV beams for 14 TeV collisions.
      • by JoshuaZ (1134087)

        I did remember a story about one of the scientists working on that Mars probe that crashed due to the feet/meter thing, she'd been working on it for 7 years which went up in a ball of fire. Now that's failure.

        Minor nitpick, the units issue was an issue of newtons of force v. pounds of force. Probe in question was the Mars Climate Orbiter.

      • by cowscows (103644)

        No kidding. I've spent years working on designs for some pretty standard buildings (condos/apartments/etc) that end up not getting built for whatever reason, and it sucks. When things do get built, there's always changes on the fly during construction, and usually some going back after it's "finished" to fix things or tie up loose ends. And while buildings are fairly complicated, they're rather crude and basic compared to particle accelerators and those awesome looking detectors.

        Getting the LHC built and ru

      • Never thought of it that way. It is like Hollywood accounting of the science world.
    • by jo42 (227475)

      I propose we give Mythbusters a truck-load of rare earth magnets, a container-load of copper wire, a trailer-load of liquid nitrogen and a skid-load of duct tape - they'll find what we're looking for no problem. Even if they do have to blow everything up at the end...

    • by hkmwbz (531650)
      You are expecting things to happen right away. It's only natural. Instant gratification is what we crave today. But these things take a long time to develop fully. It's been under development for a long time already, and a couple of more years to work out the kinks is basically what one might expect. I don't think there's something wrong with the LHC as such, or that it's taking longer than it should. It's that we are expecting things to happen with the snap of a finger, and that's just not how it works.
  • by boneclinkz (1284458) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:19PM (#33035078)
    Even the largest hadrons can't stay active forever.
    • I thought they were extinct a long time ago? Squished by a comet into oil, which is now causing fishing boats in the Gulf to be idle. I didn't know they used shrimpers to catch subatomic particles, but since they are used to catching tiny things already, I guess it makes sense.

    • Call The Doctor for a hadron lasting four hours or more.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Forever?

      Those commercials say that if your large hadron lasts 4 hours, you should call your doctor.

      Personally, if my large hadron lasts 4 hours, I'm calling everybody!

    • by tacarat (696339)
      NSFW and only slightly off topic :P
      http://sexylosers.com/202.html [sexylosers.com]
    • Even the largest hadrons can't stay active forever.

      I was gonna Fix That For You ... but I'm now scared of the prospect of "large hardon colliders" and just ran away :(

    • by nametaken (610866) *

      They call that Prionpism?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    of reading about LHC repairs. Just create the damn black hole

    • They've had to delay that disaster, with all the other ones they have created. They had to delay that one until they had milked all the current ones for all they could.

  • Bad headline (Score:3, Informative)

    by jfoobaz (1844794) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:32PM (#33035306)

    It's wrong, and it's even contradicted by the summary below. The LHC isn't idling all accelerators, CERN is idling all of the accelerators they operate.

    I know it's Slashdot, but is it too much to ask that the editors try to pay enough attention to ensure that the headline is accurate with respect to the summary?

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      I know it's Slashdot, but is it too much to ask that the editors try to pay enough attention to ensure that the headline is accurate with respect to the summary?

      Was that a rhetorical question?
      If not, the answer is "yes".

  • But how will we shrink the Earth to an object the size of a pea on December 21, 2012?
  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:35PM (#33035334) Journal

    The longer shutdown could be a chance for US scientists working on the Tevatron at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois.

    There are not many channels in which the Tevatron will be competitive with the LHC after the first data run assuming that we get the expected amount of data. The only advantages which the Tevatron has are a far better understood detectors and a larger luminosity sample but the first is lost with time (as ATLAS/CMS analyse and understand their detector data better) and the second is hard to significantly improve on given their already large data sample. The far higher energy of the LHC means that once the first data run is collected it will be very hard for the Tevatron to continue to compete with new physics. To give you an idea of the advantage a higher energy gives simply increasing the Tevatron energy from 1.8 TeV to 1.96 TeV (i.e. 10%) increased the number of top quark pairs produced by ~40%. The LHC energy is 350% that of the Tevatron so it is hard to see how they will be competitive with typical new, high energy phenomena after the first LHC run.

  • by TheHawke (237817) <{rchapin} {at} {pelicancoast.net}> on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:37PM (#33035362)

    They'll delve into the masses of data accumulated over the years, peering at impact traces, peeling back gig after gig of data in search for that miracle that would flip the universe as we know it upside down...

  • Maybe they are shutting it down until after December 21, 2012 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012_phenomenon)
  • ILC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PiMuNu (865592) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:50PM (#33035546)
    I really hope the ILC gets the go ahead But you would not build it until you know the Higgs mass (if the Higgs exists) because you want to work with e+e- collisions on the centre of mass. Until you can prove the Higgs mass is in the design range of the machine, you simply wouldn't built. So I think that story is yarbles.
  • so it looks like 2012 will not be the cubs year.

  • by Torodung (31985) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:43PM (#33036354) Journal

    OMG. Here is confirmable data, streaming in newsfeeds from all over the world, that the LHC is actually involved in a time travel paradox [newscientist.com] with a Higgs boson it can never create. Eventually the entire site will be nuked from orbit by the Higgs boson, because it's the only way to be sure.

    --
    Toro

  • Scientists generally ask for money and deliver slowly. Unfortunately, we really won't know if it's a waste of money until more money is poured into it. They should nickname it "Government."
  • I turned off idle stories, so why am I still seeing them??!?

  • "The longer shutdown could be a chance for US scientists working on the Tevatron at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, if researchers there can persuade lab management to keep the machine going instead of shutting it down in 2011 as currently planned."

    Try to wrap your head around this: this is not an "us vs. them" situation. It's not a competition. If you're cheering for one "team" or the other you're performing a psychological trick to fool yourself into feeling good.

    If either group of scientists succ

  • Nothing like working night shifts in the middle of the (to my coastal eyes) incredibly violent Illinois lightning storms...sitting next to a giant container of liquid hydrogen. Science!
    (The Pirelli calendar someone had left in the control room wasn't much consolation---I like my women like I like my coffee: hot, without fake tyre tracks on their bodies, and COVERED IN BEES.)

The idle man does not know what it is to enjoy rest.

Working...