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Why the Great Hadron Collider turns off for two years

Welding of a Magnet under Long Shutdown 1 Photo: CERN Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest nuclear burner, will be…

Welding of a Magnet under Long Shutdown 1 Photo: CERN

Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest nuclear burner, will be shut down for the next two years for upgrades. Hopefully, its particle hunting ability will be even better when it starts in 2021.

The LHC experiment is CERN’s crown jewel in Geneva, Switzerland. A complex of successive rings accelerates subatomic particles before injecting into a pair of cutting rings, sixteen miles around. At each intersection, a detector acts as a camera to see the results of the particles crash together. Researchers used the experiment to detect Higgs boson, a particle that is partly responsible for giving other particles mass. Suspension and upgrading will hopefully allow physicists to explore new, previously unavailable limits in the universe.

Several parts of LHC will receive upgrades during this two-year period, also known as “Long Shutdown 2.” The injectors that feed particles to the accelerator will change to accommodate stronger particle rays, according to a CERN release. The linear accelerators, the first steps in the accelerator process, will be replaced. Other accelerators along the way to the last LHC ring will get upgrades, as well as electrical components. Each of the collision measurement detectors will see upgrades; one of them, LHCb, will almost be replaced.

However, the work will continue on upgrading, making LHC to HL-LHC or High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider.

You may have heard a little about how LHC has not found any new particles since Higgs boson. So far, many physicists hoped to see evidence of “supersymmetry”, a list of particle particles for each existing particle that would help explain several outstanding physical problems at once and could be a candidate for explaining dark matter. But supersymmetry remains undiscovered. Now, physicists try to find new wires in other ways by searching for rare results of particle collisions and deviations from the standard particle physics model. HL-LHC would increase the collision rate by five to seven times to make any aberrations more obvious.

All this renovation does not mean that science will end at LHC. The detectors only collect data – but it is up to researchers to dig through data to find something new. Physics still aim for the 2015-2018 run.

The LHC is scheduled to restart in 2021, and the HL-LHC project should start in 2025.

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