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EUROPEAN PHYSICS ORGANISATION Cern has announced that shut down its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) until 2015 for vital maintenance and repair work.
The shutdown was planned because the LHC was in operation for three years and needs upgrades in order to continue to extend its research. When it comes back online again in 2015 it will run at higher speeds.
In the past three years the experiments at the LHC have generated huge amounts of data, about 100 petabytes according to Cern, and have led to potentially groundbreaking discoveries, including a particle that appears to be the long sought Higgs Boson.
The data generated by experiments seeking the Higgs Boson are still being analysed, Cern added.
Cern, which receives funding from governments across Europe, said it was pleased with the LHC's first years of operations.
"We have every reason to be very satisfied with the LHC's first three years. The machine, the experiments, the computing facilities and all infrastructures behaved brilliantly, and we have a major scientific discovery in our pocket," said Cern director general Rolf Heuer.
The work on the LHC and its component parts is a vital next stage in the machine's evolution as Cern moves to boost its running speed.
"We'll essentially be rebuilding the interconnections between LHC magnets, so when we resume running in 2015, we will be able to operate the machine at its design energy of 7TeV per beam," said Cern director for accelerators and technology Steve Myers.
Since the start of the year the LHC has been trying to recreate the conditions immediately after the Big Bang by smashing protons into lead ions, while the final four days saw a return to proton-proton collisions to use as a reference point for the lead ion-proton collisions. µ