The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest particle accelerator, has shut down for a two year period for maintenance and upgrades designed to restore it to peak efficiency.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest particle accelerator, has shut down for a two year period for maintenance and upgrades designed to restore it to peak efficiency.

 
The LHC entered operation in 2008, but an incident following its initial launch resulted in a helium gas explosion that damaged part of the machine, forcing scientists to run it at less than optimal settings.
 
That damage will now be repaired over the next two years, and the power should be turned back on in 2014. The shutdown began Thursday morning, but it won't be until Saturday morning that everything is offline, as the 1,734 magnets in the machine need time to return to room temperature.
 
 
In 2011 the LHC ran particle energies at 7 trillion electron-volts, and in 2012 scientists managed to inrease that to 8 trillion electron-volts. However, when the device is turned back on in 2014 it is expected to run at 14 trillion electron-volts, making it a monumental improvement that could change the way we understand physics.
 
Along with the repairs to the damaged parts, scientists will be upgrading the detectors, the electronic shielding, and the ventilation system. The machine should come back online in November 2014, but experiments are unlikely to resume until February or March 2015.
 
The LHC earned acclaim for the discovery in 2012 of what scientists believe might be the Higgs boson, the last remaining piece of the puzzle for the Standard Model of particle physics. If it turns out to be the real deal, then the LHC will already have proven its worth, and we can only imagine what might be discovered when it comes back into operation with substantially more ability.
 
Source: BBC
Image Credit: Julian Herzog