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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 imsabbel (611519) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @12:54PM (#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 Pro-feet (2668975) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @01:01PM (#42496245)
    Cooling and magnets take the largest chunk. At full power it consumes about the power of a small-to-midsize city, like neighbouring Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Re:Two years, eh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by FunkyLich (2533348) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @01:02PM (#42496257)

    Hmm... Just when they get a whiff of the Higgs they shut down. Curious. Either "those in the know" have to have some time to make sure things like the LHC don't really find it, or they need a little time to reengineer the Higgs so as to make it less detectable.

    I don't really know whether it will be or any use to reply to this post, but I will take my chance anyhow.

    In extremely few words, shutting down the LHC has nothing to do with finding the Higgs Boson, as of now. The data from the particle collisions is NOT processed in real time. The data is stored and processed at a much slower rate compared to that of which it is produced. Already there's TONS of data that needs to be processed and analysed. The necessary data for determining whether there truly is a Higgs Boson or not is already there, waiting only to be looked at and analysed. The fact our ability to process $DATA is slower than our ability to produce $DATA has nothing to do with 'those in the know redesigning Higgs to fit their needs'.

    You should *watch less* conspiracy theory movies, and *read more* real science.

  • Re:Two years, eh? (Score:2, Informative)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @01:34PM (#42496535) Homepage
    *watch fewer*, Mr. Pedant. If you're going to correct others, at least do it correctly.
  • Re:"revealed" (Score:3, Informative)

    by BetterNever (2809481) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @01:49PM (#42496685)
    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.
  • Not Quite Certain (Score:5, Informative)

    by Roger W Moore (538166) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @02:21PM (#42496919) Journal

    The necessary data for determining whether there truly is a Higgs Boson or not is already there

    Actually that is not quite correct. To really determine whether we have a Standard Model Higgs boson we need to see its decays into things called fermions (particles that make up matter) and so far we have only see it decay into bosons (particles that create forces). The problem is that the heaviest fermions the "Higgs" can create, b-quarks, are also created by different physics that is ~a billion times more likely than a Higgs decay so it's like try to find a piece of straw in a haystack (a needle is easy if you have a big enough magnet!). The next heaviest fermions, tau leptons - a very heavy cousin of the electron - decay in a way which makes them look very much like quarks and so, to a large degree, suffer the same problem (identifying taus in the trigger is something I actually work on).

    So to be able to see these decays we need a lot of data and it is not entirely clear whether we will have enough in the current dataset to see these decays - my best guess is that we might hit 3 sigma "evidence" but without some very clever analysis I think a 5 sigma "discovery" is unlikely. In addition we also need to measure the spin of the Higgs to confirm that it is a scalar, spin-0, particle. This again requires large statistics and again I don't know that we have enough data yet - time will tell.

    The big reason for the shutdown is for the energy upgrade. If this new particle really is the Higgs then we can expect new physics out there to explain why the Higgs is so much lighter than the planck scale - the energy where gravity becomes important (the reasons behind this are complex!). This new physics may also explain what Dark Matter is so there is a great deal of hope that getting the energy up to ~13TeV (which is what is expected after the upgrade) may give us access to this new physics.

  • Close... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Roger W Moore (538166) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @02:31PM (#42496981) Journal

    Time to get the Black Hole Machine ready for 1.21 Jigawatts

    Not far off - but the LHC power consumption is only ~0.3 GW and won't change much with the higher energy since the magnets are superconducting and most of the power goes into keeping them cold. However with a 27km circumference don't expect to find it mounted in the back of a Delorean anytime soon.

  • Re:Two years, eh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Crc (151920) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @02:47PM (#42497131)

    Just when they get a whiff of the Higgs they shut down. Curious.

    Not curious at all. And, as mentioned in previous posts, the shutdown has been planned for several years already. If the Higgs' energy was higher than the roughly 125 GeV it seems to have, LHC would have found it a lot sooner.

    The reason for not shutting down earlier was that they wanted to be sure that if it wasn't found by the time they shut down, then the accumulated data would be sufficient to rule out the Higgs. They calculated that in order to do that, they had to run until the end of 2012.

    In fact, the current run at LHC was extended [cds.cern.ch] after the Higgs discovery was made, for the sole reason of gathering more Higgs data.

  • by mpoulton (689851) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @02:54PM (#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.

  • Re:Two years, eh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pro-feet (2668975) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @02:55PM (#42497201)
    Correct.
    The shutdown was originally planned to start a month or so ago, but the run got extended to make sure we had the maximum number of collisions to sudy the Higgs boson in detail. It could not be extended more, because of issues with contracts planned long ago for this shutdown.
    The LHC performed very well this year, but not above its own expectations, and therefore we have now a dataset which is big enough to say a few words about how this boson really looks like the Higgs boson, but to really characterize it further we need more data. For instance, with the data still being analysed, we know that the spin will not be unambiguously determined - well, depends on the definition; at least not with the usual 5 sigma.
  • by mpoulton (689851) on Sunday January 06, 2013 @07:48PM (#42499255)
    Each beam is really a loop of proton bunches, since they circulate indefinitely around the ring. There are 2808 bunches per beam maximum, and each bunch contains about 1.15x10^11 protons. The bunch length is something like 8cm, and the diameter actually varies a lot but runs about a fraction of a millimeter through most of the ring, and focuses down to about 16 microns (hair diameter) at the crossing point where the beams collide. The design minimum bunch spacing is 25ns (about 25 feet at the speed of light), but they have been running wider spacing than that I think. The bunches are not uniformly spaced, either, since there are large gaps to allow time for the beam dump and injection apparatus to activate without getting proton blasted during switching.

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