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LHC set to halt for upgrades

Maintenance, improvement work and data analysis will keep scientists busy as collider’s planned closure begins.

Geoff Brumfiel
06 February 2013

With the discovery of the Higgs boson or something very like it under its belt, the world’s most powerful particle collider is ready to take a well-earned rest. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will shut down on 11 February ahead of around two years of upgrade work.

The break, known as LS1 for ‘long stop one’, is needed to correct several flaws in the original design of the collider, which is located underground at CERN, Europe’s particle-physics laboratory near Geneva in Switzerland. The fixes will allow the collider to almost double the energy at which it smashes protons together.

But there will be no long holiday for the thousands of physicists who depend on the LHC for their data. A bruising schedule of maintenance, upgrades and forward planning will keep the scientists who work on the collider’s detectors busy (see ‘Down time?’). Meanwhile, graduate students and postdocs will be poring over the past three years’ worth of data, refining their measurements of the Higgs-like particle discovered last summer and searching for any unusual signals. “It’s absolutely not time off,” says Dave Charlton, the deputy spokesman for ATLAS, the largest detector at the LHC.

Read more: LHC set to halt for upgrades : Nature News & Comment.

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