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Science Technology

CERN's LHC To Shut Down For Repair & Upgrades 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the rotate-the-tires dept.
hypnosec writes "CERN has revealed that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is going into hibernation and will be shut down for a period of two years for upgrades. The LHC will go through a maintenance and upgrade phase starting in March that will bring the atom smasher up to speed with its maximum energy levels. From the article: 'The machine that last year helped scientists snare the elusive Higgs boson – or a convincing subatomic impostor – faces a two-year shutdown while engineers perform repairs that are needed for the collider to ramp up to its maximum energy in 2015 and beyond. The work will beef up electrical connections in the machine that were identified as weak spots after an incident four years ago that knocked the collider out for more than a year.'"
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CERN's LHC To Shut Down For Repair & Upgrades

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  • by eksith (2776419) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @11:22AM (#42495969) Homepage
    Time to get the Black Hole Machine ready for 1.21 Jigawatts
  • by Anonymous Coward

    With the resolution of the NHL strike, a lot of Zambonis and their skilled operators will be shipped over to North America and thus won't be available for the regular icedowns required by the LHC track.

  • "revealed" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bananenrepublik (49759) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @11:34AM (#42496043)

    For how many years needs something to be known before it is no longer a revelation? Seriously, this schedule has been in the plans for several years, it was also clear from even before the initial start that before going to design luminosity (i.e. beam intensity in layman's speak) and design energy a shutdown for refurbishment would be necessary. This is no surprise at all -- after all running the world's highest energy particle collider (the LHC at 7 TeV) would necessarily teach us something about running a machine at even higher energies (the LHC which will run at 13-14 TeV starting 2014) that we didn't know before.

    • by SydShamino (547793) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @11:49AM (#42496145)

      Certain parts of the Bible are heading towards 2000 years, and they are still called Revelations.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      I was kind of surprised the upgrade will cost "only" 40 million. That is less than 1/2 of 1% of the $9 BN program cost. In other words their expenditures must be down a lot this year during the upgrade.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BetterNever (2809481)
        It's just a poorly written article. $40m in the original story referred to the cost of repairs after the 2008 accident. There's nothing about how much is being spent during this maintenance window.
      • They offset the cost by selling antimatter to a Pope's assistant.
    • by necro81 (917438)
      The use of the word "revealed" seemed odd to me to - the shutdown isn't something new or unexpected. But, given the literacy and intelligence of science journalism these days, I'm just glad that they managed to write the article without once mentioning "God Particle."
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I'm just glad that they managed to write the article without once mentioning "God Particle."

        That phrase would have been far less offensive if the newspaper prudes hadn't censored it. I was "God damned particle, because it was so elusive it pissed the researchers off that they hadn't found it. When the term was published in the popular press, "damned" was censored out.

        God damned prudes and their contempt for clear communication...

  • I gotta ask, what the heck is powering this thing? Several nuclear reactors? I think it's time we work on Fusion reactors if they're going to upgrade at this point.
    • Well all they are doing to accelerating a few atoms. you should not need very much power to accelerate masses that small.

      • by Jetra (2622687)
        I needs electricity to power the magnets and the lights and the computer cores as well as whatever other machinery they got going there.
      • by mpoulton (689851) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @01:54PM (#42497193)

        Well all they are doing to accelerating a few atoms. you should not need very much power to accelerate masses that small.

        You might think so based on the miniscule resting mass of the particles, but remember that they are being accelerated very close to the speed of light, so they gather a staggering amount of kinetic energy (and/or additional mass, relativistically). The LHC particle beam is the closest thing to the death star's destruction ray that humans have created. Each of the collider's two counter-rotating sets of particle bunches carries 360,000,000 joules of energy - about as much as 300 sticks of dynamite, or a passenger train moving 90MPH. The stored energy in the pair of beams could melt a ton of copper instantly. All that, in a "flying rod of protons" about 0.3mm in diameter and moving 186,000 miles per second. The LHC uses a pair of huge graphite cylinders 22 feet long and 2 feet in diameter to dispose of the accelerated protons. Each beam dump is water cooled and surrounded by 750 tons of radiation shielding deep underground. But even that isn't quite good enough on its own. The particles beam is deflected into a circular pattern as it is directed into the graphite absorber so the energy is spread over a larger volume to avoid excessively damaging the graphite.

        • by fsterman (519061)

          OMG, you mean the LHC is really just an alpha test for the Death Star?!?! That's why the first death star is circular and the second one is linear!!!

    • by imsabbel (611519) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @11:54AM (#42496171)

      There is a reason they usually power down in the winter, when the french nuclear power plants have higher load from homes (Over here, there is no AC peak int he summer).

      IIRC, LHC uses something between 250 and 350 MW power to run.

      • by Jetra (2622687)
        That seems kind of small.
        • by dissy (172727)

          That seems kind of small.

          250 to 350 mW is equivalent to 2.5 to 3.5 billion 100 watt light bulbs.
          With a "b", as in 2,500,000,000 bulbs.

          According to the DoE, the average US household uses 1 kW of electricity at any given time.
          250 mW usage would be equivalent to the same amount of power consumption as a quarter of a million US homes (250,000)

          Put another way, if you or I were to use this amount of electricity at home it would cost $25,000 every hour. In a 30 day period, the electric bill would total 180 million dollars ($180,000,000)

          *

          • by Jetra (2622687)
            ...wait. I think I got Megawatts mixed up with something else. 1 mW = 1 Million watts?
            • by Old Wolf (56093)

              M = mega (1 million)
              m = milli (1 thousandth)

            • by dissy (172727)

              ...wait. I think I got Megawatts mixed up with something else. 1 mW = 1 Million watts?

              Now that you mention it, I think I too got my unit abbreviation mixed up.
              I intended to mean megawatts, aka a million watts. That might be MW however, not mW.

              But in the end, the LHC uses 250 to 350 million watts.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            1 kw at any given time? That sure sounds low; a toaster takes 1kw, microwave 1100w, fridge? Don't know but it's a lot. Furnace blower? Especially in the summer when the AC is sucking juice 1kw sounds really low.

    • by ysth (1368415)

      The Europeans are taking fusion very seriously [efda.org] and making nice progress [iter.org].

    • by hughk (248126)
      They get their power from France (Mostly nuclear) and Switzerland (lots of Hydroelectric). When the LHC is running, it can take the same sort of power as the whole of Geneva. I am not sure how they procure their power, but given the mild winter, power has been a lot cheaper than expected unfortunately the decision to extend the run was made some months ago and they may already have locked in the price.
  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdotNO@SPAMhackish.org> on Sunday January 06, 2013 @11:46AM (#42496119)

    Their plans to end the world have failed, so they're retooling with more power to try again!

    • You've got it backwards. LHC saved us from the 2012 disaster. Its difficult and secretive mission now accomplished, it's taking a much-needed rest.

  • To try and use the collider and have to peel the onion to deal with the unknowns. Then again, could be the Laundry [wikipedia.org] at work.. ;)
  • there is little chance of a resonance cascade

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is there a way a 3D printer can speed that up? Or maybe we can put the LHC into a private space orbit and let the free market take over?
  • Yay! No black holes for the next two years!
  • Another upgrade, is this run by Microsoft?
  • No grandpa, it's a sub-atomic particle smasher.

  • In two years from now when it is upgraded and running at maximum levels will anyone think to warn Gordan Freeman??? :)

    • In two years from now when it is upgraded and running at maximum levels will anyone think to warn Gordan Freeman??? :)

      I agree with your sentiment, but you've nothing to fear. You must have hopped dimensions: In this universe his name is Morgan Freeman, and I'd say he's pretty much on top of such things... [imdb.com]

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @02:40PM (#42497533) Homepage

    The LHC beam tunnel is just barely big enough for the beam line and magnets. The layout is as tight as a submarine. Getting magnets in and out is a huge pain. The original intent was that it wasn't going to be necessary to do that very often. It didn't work out that way.

    But after the last failure, they discovered that the electrical connections between the sections weren't as solid as they needed to be. The trouble four years ago happened because a weld wasn't good enough. A connection went non-superconducting and became resistive, and all the energy stored in the associated superconducting magnets was converted to heat. The area of the joint exploded and most of the liquid helium in the system converted to gas, blowing out a lot of cryogenic plumbing.

    Because of the tight spaces, tasks which ought to be done in parallel have to be done sequentially. That increases downtime.

    The unfinished US Superconducting Supercollider had tunnels big enough for railroad trains. (It was in Texas and a pork program; what would you expect?) CERN built cheaper, but they pay for it in downtime.

    • by Pro-feet (2668975)
      I'm not sure if space is the issue here. You can bike in the tunnel (useful, since it's looong). [and by the way, the beamline is contained in the magnets, so that saves space ;-)]
      Parallellizing means also more expert manpower for less work: I could imagine it's practically impossible to train 1000 expert welders to each repair one joint.
      Note also that the LEP tunnel that is housing now the LHC was far from cheap...
    • by joe_frisch (1366229) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:58PM (#42498555)

      Unfortunately the way projects are funded, there is strong pressure to minimize the initial cost, even if the total cost in the long run will be higher. "operating" costs can usually be taken into account, but most funding agencies are very reluctant to spend more money not for future non-approved upgrades.

    • by fsterman (519061)

      Our version was going to run at a higher power and the circumference was ~3 larger. And, well, this was also a pork program for Europe.

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @04:53PM (#42498517)
    > CERN has revealed that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is going into hibernation and will be shut down for a period of two years for upgrades.

    Clearly they have discovered a network of interstellar wormholes and are are trying to hush it up while assembling a team of space commandos a la Richard Dean Anderson.

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