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Why the Large Hadron Collider is shut down for two years



When welding a magnet during long shutdown 1
Photo: CERN

The Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest atomic grinder, will be deactivated for upgrades in the next two years. It is hoped that his particle-chasing skills will be even better after a restart in 2021.

The LHC experiment is the crown jewel of CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. A complex of successive rings accelerates subatomic particles before injecting them into a pair of intersecting rings 16 miles in length. At each point of intersection, a detector acts like a camera to observe the result of the collision of the particles. Scientists used the experiment to discover the Higgs boson, a particle that is partly responsible for giving mass to other particles. Shutting down and upgrading will hopefully enable physicists to explore new, previously inaccessible boundaries of the universe.

Several parts of the LHC will receive upgrades during this biennial period, also referred to as "Long Shutdown 2" (Injection). The accelerator will be modified according to a CERN version to accommodate stronger particle beams. The linear accelerators, the first steps of the accelerator process, are replaced. Other accelerators on the way to the last LHC ring are being upgraded as well as electrical components. Each collision measurement detector is improved. one of them, LHCb, will almost be replaced.

Work on the upgrade that transforms the LHC into the HL-LHC (Large Hadron Collider high-intensity light) continues.

You may have heard how the LHC has not found new particles since the Higgs boson. Meanwhile, many physicists hoped for evidence of "supersymmetry," a list of partner particles for each particle present that would help explain several outstanding physical problems at once, and could be a candidate for the explanation of dark matter. Supersymmetry, however, remains undetected. Now physicists are trying to find new ways in other ways, looking for rarer results of particle collisions and deviations from the standard model of particle physics. The HL-LHC would increase the collision rate by 5 to 7 times in order to amplify anomalies obviously.

All this renovation does not mean that science stops at the LHC. The detectors only collect data – but it's up to the scientists to search the data to find something new. Physicists are still going through the course of 2015-2018.

The LHC is expected to be operational again in 2021 and the HL-LHC project is due to begin in 2025.


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