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Large Hadron Collider Shuts Down For Two-Year Hiatus, Maintenance & Upgrades, CERN Says

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In this 2007 file photo two engineers work to assemble one of the layers of the world's largest superconducting solenoid magnet at the European Organization for Nuclear Research's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator in Geneva, Switzerland. | AP

It's lights out at the celebrated Large Hadron Collider. The world's most powerful particle accelerator has shut down for a two-year hiatus, CERN officials announced Thursday in a news release.

During the break, dubbed "Long Shutdown 1," the atom smasher is expected to be repaired and upgraded in an effort to prepare the machine for operating at higher energy.

“There is a great deal of consolidation work to do on CERN’s whole accelerator complex, as well as the LHC itself,” Steve Myers, CERN’s director for accelerators and technology, said in the release. “We’ll essentially be rebuilding the interconnections between LHC magnets."

lhc repair

The LHC is housed at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), and gained much attention last year for identifying a particle believed to be the Higgs boson. But scientists suggest the machine has yet to reach its full potential.

"We have been running successfully," University of Oxford physicist Tony Weidberg, who works on the LHC's Atlas detector, told BBC News, "but only at half the maximum energy, because we can only safely run the magnets at half the design current."

The collider is scheduled to resume running in 2015, with the rest of the CERN complex slated to start up again in the second half of 2014.

“We have every reason to be very satisfied with the LHC’s first three years,” CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer said in the release. “The machine, the experiments, the computing facilities and all infrastructures behaved brilliantly, and we have a major scientific discovery in our pocket.”

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