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LHC to Take Two-Year Vacation in March

Fri, 01/04/2013 - 12:24pm
Associated Press

Image: CERNThe world's largest and most powerful atom smasher goes into a 2-year hibernation in March, aiming to reach maximum energy levels that may lead to more stunning discoveries following the detection of the so-called "God particle."

Spokesman James Gillies of the European particle physics laboratory known as CERN says the reopening of its $10 billion proton collider in early 2015 will set the stage for observing "rare events" — and unlocking more mysteries.

Gillies tells The Associated Press that the Large Hadron Collider under the Swiss-French border will operate for two more months then shut down until 2015, to allow engineers to ramp it up to "full design energy," allowing it to simulate the moments after the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago.

Physicists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN, won't exactly be idle as the collider takes a break. There are still reams more data to sift through since the July discovery of a new subatomic particle called the Higgs boson — dubbed the God particle — which promises a new realm of understanding of the universe.

For the next two months, the Large Hadron Collider will be smashing protons with lead ions, then undergo several weeks of testing before it shuts down.

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