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CERN's LHC Powers Down For Two Years

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the rotate-the-tires dept.

Science 71

An anonymous reader writes "Excitement and the media surrounded the Higgs boson particle for weeks when it was discovered in part by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). But now, the collider that makes its home with CERN, the famed international organizational that operates the world's largest particle physics laboratory, is powering down. The Higgs boson particle was first discovered by the LHC in 2012. The particle, essentially, interacts with everything that has mass as the objects interact with the all-powerful Higgs field, a concept which, in theory, occupies the entire universe." We covered the repair announcement last month.

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71 comments

TWO years?? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42904319)

Don't these people realize we're in the 3D printing epoch now? Can they just print out a new LHC in less than two years?

Re:TWO years?? (-1, Redundant)

kaws (2589929) | about a year ago | (#42904419)

While 2 years is pretty ridiculous, I haven't yet heard of a proper 3D printer that can create parts at the quality that they'd need. 3D printing isn't the best for some of the more vital science apparatuses on the bleeding edge of science.

Re:TWO years?? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42904531)

Do you .. not .. sense... the utter black humor and mockery in my post? 3D printing is great for trinkets made of one material when all you worry about is the shape of the trinket. People don't realize the complexity of even a pair of headphones and all the different materials needed, let alone something as large and complex as the LHC. I'm making fun of the delusional people who think we are weeks away from Star Trek replicators because someone put a glue gun on a stepper motor.

Re:TWO years?? (5, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#42905153)

I know at least 3 different hippie/steampunk-esque people that have never as much as put a new handle on a kitchen drawer, but yet have a $2000 bag of parts sitting on their kitchen tables that, supposedly, once complete, will be a 3D printer. Granted, those bags have been sitting there for months, even years in one case, but they are determined it will get put together and eventually help them build their straw bail houses. Every single one of them is convinced that the past 10,000 years worth of engineering mankind has been involved in was misguided, wrong and wasteful. They, with their Nikola Tesla biographies in hand, will revolutionize the world with their geodesic domes and modern day dirigibles. They also hunt ghosts on the weekends. Interesting times.

Re:TWO years?? (1)

data2 (1382587) | about a year ago | (#42908409)

Well, as they say:

When a man says he is going to do something, then he will do it. There is no need to remind him every 6 month of it.

Re:TWO years?? (1)

drolli (522659) | about a year ago | (#42908861)

Yes. Very true. Its always funny to explain to people who insist that a 3d printer is the true revolution for making things at home, that if you train a little bit, have a decent manual toolbox with a calipers rule, a set of files, a small drilling/engraving machine (dremel) and decent ways of fixing the workpiece (total cost far below the cheapest usable 3D printer) you will be much much more flexible in terms of materials to use and precision. The most parts (not all) which i have seen printed using a consumer-grade (shitty, not like the rapit prototyping ones for industry use) 3d printer look in a way that you could have done them in 30-40 minutes of work on a moderatly equipped workbench in arbitrary materials in higher quality. And yes, if you like and use some polishing spone you can match part thicknesses down to 10mum (or less...). may require some time, some patience and maybe several attempts but if you ask me how to make two fitting parts for assembly, i would prefer that way.

Re:TWO years?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42905551)

Counter whooosh!

Nicely done kaws.

(I would have capitalised the first line but that hit the yelling filter error.)

Re:TWO years?? (-1, Redundant)

rossdee (243626) | about a year ago | (#42905847)

3D printers can print out plastic parts, but i don't think they can do superconducting magnets (yet)

Re:TWO years?? (1)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#42908013)

There are 3D printers who do ceramics and others who can print metal objects. Both use powders as base which they either glue together with a fluid to be burnt later, or electrocute the powder to provide a first melting together for later sintering.

Re:TWO years?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42912287)

Additionally, you can do lost wax casting creations of metals, or something in between. However, the material properties of such things can be quite different than using the same metal in a different process. Especially with a difference between forged, cast, or sintered, assuming the metal you are trying to work with can even be used for such processes. While there are special cases a high end shop would use 3D printed sintered metal for a metal structure, either the shop or their customers at that level would have access to full traditional machining shops and can continue to use all the "old" methods that work well, if not better, for many cases too.

Material is the problem (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#42906071)

More that the quality (which is most assuredly is an issue) the material is a more important factor. Know any good ways to print copper plates, or cryostat vessels etc. because we cannot make all our detector out of plastic and those that are plastic usually need to be very transparent and I don't imagine 3D printing will achieve anything like the clarity we need.

However, if anyone has a 3D printer and the time we do have detailed 3D models of the detector geometry that we use for simulations. There has already been a Lego model of ATLAS developed so, if you are up for a challenge, how about a 3D printed model of ATLAS? It would be great to have for outreach talks at high schools!

Re:Material is the problem (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about a year ago | (#42907313)

More that the quality (which is most assuredly is an issue) the material is a more important factor. Know any good ways to print copper plates, or cryostat vessels etc.

You can print casts in wax, and make lost wax casts. I don't know if you can casts bopper in them, wikipedia only mentions gold, silver, bronze and brass. However, unless you need very intricate geometries, I think traditional metalworking is better.

those that are plastic usually need to be very transparent and I don't imagine 3D printing will achieve anything like the clarity we need.

A single layer can be somewhat transparent (I printed this [thingiverse.com] in clear blue PLA, and the wings are kind of transparent), but multiple layers are, at best, translucent. That might just be my expertise, of course, and I would imagine stereolithography being better at optics than extrusion, as the detail level is much better.

However, if anyone has a 3D printer and the time we do have detailed 3D models of the detector geometry that we use for simulations. There has already been a Lego model of ATLAS developed so, if you are up for a challenge, how about a 3D printed model of ATLAS? It would be great to have for outreach talks at high schools!

Do you have an 3D file of the ATLAS detector (preferably .stl)? I would love to try it, though I will probably botch it.

Re:Material is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42912213)

By "very transparent" he may have meant optical quality. Or at least in some cases, parts of such detectors need to be incredibly transparent, clear, and defect free as they are trying to detect very low light levels created by particles going through.

Re:TWO years?? (4, Funny)

Guppy06 (410832) | about a year ago | (#42904879)

Why print out the collider when you can print out the hadrons themselves?

Re:TWO years?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42909741)

And then what? let them crash on their own?

It's like having Beyblade tops and no arena. Not entirely useless, but not as much fun.

Re:TWO years?? (5, Funny)

erice (13380) | about a year ago | (#42905031)

Don't these people realize we're in the 3D printing epoch now? Can they just print out a new LHC in less than two years?

Well, yes but from whose point of view? Remember all those black holes that that LHC was supposed to create? Everyone was afraid they were going to destroy the world. That didn't happen but they did create a bit of a time dilation issue. For the gang working at the collider, they're just shutting down for a couple of weekends to do a little sweeping up. But for the rest of us on the outside, it's two years.

Re:TWO years?? (2)

Sulphur (1548251) | about a year ago | (#42905471)

Don't these people realize we're in the 3D printing epoch now? Can they just print out a new LHC in less than two years?

And a small black hole is the best cutting tool in the universe.

All-powerful Higgs field? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42904443)

And they wonder why there is a kerfluffle about what people call the "God particle?" Seriously, this hyperbole really has to be toned down.

TWO YEARS?! (2, Funny)

yerktoader (413167) | about a year ago | (#42904575)

HOW WILL SCIENCING GET DONE!?

Re:TWO YEARS?! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42906555)

They collected heaps and heaps of data. (Petabytes even!) The scientists will use this downtime to work on the backlogs and see what's interesting in what they have gathered so far.

Re:TWO YEARS?! (3, Funny)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | about a year ago | (#42908127)

It serves them right for going straight after the large hadrons. They should have practiced with small or medium hadrons first.

Ruh Roh (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about a year ago | (#42904597)

So without the LHC the universe is in danger of imploding now? Or exploding? Run this singularity business by me one more time here.

Re:Ruh Roh (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42905501)

Let's just say that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved the second hand on the Doomsday clock back by 5.39106E-44 seconds while the LHC is out of service.

Understandable but still frustrating (4, Informative)

Snotnose (212196) | about a year ago | (#42904677)

I've been involved in enough large scale projects to know why you bring up parts, or underpower the system, and run them to see what breaks. And stuff does break, it's the name of the game.

Still, it's pretty frustrating to watch this shut down for 2 years. We'll be getting results from the Pluto probe about the time this thing comes back up.

Re:Understandable but still frustrating (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42904733)

Some parts for LHC were getting designed in the 1970s. 2-years is *nothing*.

Comments here are like if nothing can be done. You know, real science is actually understanding the petabytes of data already measured and stored. Hey, they even have to figure out that Higg's boson look-like thingy that they did measure but still not sure what it is 100%.

As I said, 2 years, it is nothing. Lots of data to go over. Trust me, no one will be idle.

Re:Understandable but still frustrating (1)

JakartaDean (834076) | about a year ago | (#42905985)

As I understand it, and nothing I've read makes this perfectly clear, this shutdown is part of gearing up to move from shooting protons around to shooting much heavier shit around, lead nuclei. The bangs when they hit get much bigger. Bigger bangs have to be better, so this is a good thing.

Re:Understandable but still frustrating (2)

Pro-feet (2668975) | about a year ago | (#42907181)

This is wrong. They were shooting lead nuclei around in the past month even, and have done before.
When the LHC will come back, it will run protons again, and again lead nuclie at some more future point.
Heavy-ion collisions is something the machine was designed for.
It's the higher energy that requires the extensive repairs and upgrades, and the downtime.

Just in time for the Mass Effect... (1)

Myria (562655) | about a year ago | (#42906331)

We'll be getting results from the Pluto probe about the time this thing comes back up.

Cool. We'll need the LHC to analyze the mass relay under Charon's ice...

Re:Understandable but still frustrating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42906493)

NOT FRUSTRATING.

I wish media would STOP reporting this like this was unexpected event or something. This maintenance schedule for LHC was planned RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING! Before it was even started first time! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, GASP? :)

The scientist have *gigantic* amount of data from LHC already to figure out, which will be discussed and investigated for sure more than a decade, waiting for pre-scheduled, completely planned maintenance break is nothing.

Oh yeah. There's another scheduled approximately 2 year maintenance break coming after this one too! Wonder what media reports that time. "LHC BROKE AGAIN? WHAT A POS LOL :D"

To all you leftist science geeks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42904811)

The LHC is a travesty: putting a gun to the heads of citizens to pay for it, then robbing them again to pay for the enormous amounts of energy that it consumes. If this kind of research interests you, why can't you fund it yourself instead of threatening your neighbours with force?

Scientific research is not one of the responsibilities of government, which exists solely to keep us free. If a project like the LHC were really producing useful results, the free market would jump to fund it.

Re:To all you leftist science geeks (5, Insightful)

tylutin (2575251) | about a year ago | (#42905055)

If a project like the LHC were really producing useful results, the free market would jump to fund it.

Actually, businesses rarely looks farther than 5 years in a business plan.
If a research project can't make a profit in that time, they don't pursue it.
The LHC took 10 years to build, from 1998 to 2008. Therefore nearly all of the physics research that has been performed and its resulting discoveries and breakthroughs would never have happened if it was left to the "free market".

Science and understanding can not progress through simple theory. The ideas must be tested and validated. That's the reason for facilities like this.

Re:To all you leftist science geeks (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#42905457)

But now that they've found the Higgs boson, what are they going to do with it? Can they manufacture an anti-Higgs? Can they sheild against the Higgs field? Can they enhance the field, or generate Higgs bosons artificially? I need an antigrav to move some heavy stuff, and once I get it into orbit, I'll need to have something to keep the martini in the glass.

Science too long term and unpredictable (4, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#42906209)

But now that they've found the Higgs boson, what are they going to do with it?

I don't know it depends on what clever ideas people come up with. At the moment we are not even sure if it is the Higgs we have produced so we need to study it more. This precisely illustrates why industry will never fund research like this: it is too far ahead of any practical application and may even turn out to just be a stepping stone with no applications of its own but which leads to something amazingly useful. While I could make wild conjectures about what we might be able to discover the best way to understand the case for fundamental science like this is to look back.

In the early 1900's Rutherford discovered the atomic nucleus and you could have wondered exactly the same thing: what is anyone going to do with it now we know it is there. Well 40 years later it lead directly to a new source of power. However indirectly it let us understand atoms far better. That understanding, along with quantum mechanics gave use an understanding of materials that led to the invention of the silicon transistor, an invention that has literally transformed the entire planet. I very much doubt Rutherford, or anyone on the planet at the time, had even the tiniest clue that this would be the result of this discovery.

Sadly it seems that the cry for immediate, short term applied science is getting stronger and stronger. What the industry types who are calling for this need to understand is that they are turkeys asking for christmas. Sure it might be nice to have all those fundamental research dollars wrapped up under the christmas tree and given to you to build a better widget but once those presents are opened and gone there will be no more fundamental research you can apply to build the next generation of widgets. It's then that they will realize who society will eat for dinner...

Re:Science too long term and unpredictable (0)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#42906517)

Rutherford worked with, maybe, a thousand dollars worth of gear, and was producing results (ie world record radio transmission distances). The LHC is a multi-Billion dollar piece of equipment, who's only practical result seems to be that it can induce cancer in nearby helicopters. Is that how it works? The more we spend, the less the practical results?

Re:Science too long term and unpredictable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42906835)

Yeah, and according to legend newton worked with apples. The deeper we dig the harder it will get. TAlking of getting, you don't seem to get what basic research is for. There has to be someone that has the funding and the balls to dive to the deep end. If there wasn't we'd all still be sitting by the pool being scared of it and chanting "god did it".

Re:Science too long term and unpredictable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42906929)

Rutherford also later on did work with early particle accelerators and ran a rather large lab, where many of his other discoveries and contributions were made. He's not exactly a model of doing great things with unrealistically small budgets, probably much closer to the opposite for his time.

But if you are all ready to spend a thousand dollars and make some great contribution science, by all means, don't let others more expensive toys hold you back. You should easily be able to raise that money, whether from working at any job that pays more than minimum wage or a kickstarter. Your actions will speak much louder than your words when you make such an accomplishment.

Re:Science too long term and unpredictable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42907141)

Is that how it works? The more we spend, the less the practical results?

Nice strawman you built there.

How about "the fewer pirates there are in the world, the more difficult it becomes to find new science to explore".

Heard of the Web? (2)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#42907233)

Rutherford worked with, maybe, a thousand dollars worth of gear, and was producing results (ie world record radio transmission distances).

Right. So if we are going to start looking at things outside fundamental research you may possibly have heard of something called the world wide web - if not try Googling it. ;-) Now, look up where it was invented and why. Doing fundamental research can have spinoffs just as much now as it did in Rutherford's day.

As for the cost of research yes it does cost more to find the Higgs - we need protons with about one million times more energy than the alpha particles Rutherford used. Since nature does not provide a nice portable source of these like there are for alpha particles we have to make it which is more expensive.

As for the practicality as I was explaining fundamental research is almost always non-practical when it is first discovered as was the case for Rutherford's nucleus. It takes time to apply this knowledge to the benefit on mankind. What your ignorance may be blinding you to is the fact that all new "widgets" that IT companies produce today rely on an understanding of the fundamental physics of ~100 years ago. If you stop fundamental research then, once the ideas based on out current understanding of physics are used up that's it - no more new widgets. A colleague of mine had a good way of putting it: no amount of applied research will give you the electric light bulb starting with a candle: you have to have fundamental research to be able to make that leap.

Re:To all you leftist science geeks (4, Insightful)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about a year ago | (#42905763)

There is also the issue of externalities. Discovering something new about the universe would benefit many people, not just the investors who paid for the science. When you have a situation where lots of people will benefit, but the cost tends to be concentrated, you have a good reason for government funding.

Re:To all you leftist science geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42911187)

Sounds like a good case for crowdfunding!

Re:To all you leftist science geeks (1)

Baba Ram Dass (1033456) | about a year ago | (#42907115)

If a project like the LHC were really producing useful results, the free market would jump to fund it.

Actually, businesses rarely looks farther than 5 years in a business plan.
If a research project can't make a profit in that time, they don't pursue it.

Untrue. Many businesses spend many many many years in research and development before getting any return on that investment. For example, on average, it takes about 10 years to get a new drug onto the shelf. Pharmaceuticals not only invest a decade into each new product, but they also sink about a billion USD by the time they start recovering those costs (if they do at all, not every medicine is a home run).

The fact is the market not only could but would step in to fill some first rate research, and do it faster and cheaper by most accounts, if it were given the chance, i.e. when the competition doesn't receive such an ungodly amount of head start subsidized funding, making any kind of practical attempt comical.

Re:To all you leftist science geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42907655)

And what is the difference between Big Pharma and the LHC? Answer that question and your whole argument becomes moot.

Re:To all you leftist science geeks (1)

prefec2 (875483) | about a year ago | (#42909523)

Most "developed" new medication is not better than the old one. That's why countries created drug evaluation facilities where the quality of drugs is measured. Furthermore, pharma companies do not do much basic research, it is more or less all applied research. This includes the development of plants or bacteria to produce certain substances. Base research is to investigate how cells work. Adding genes and evaluating results is what the companies do.

There are some exceptions. In the past IBM did some interesting research on magnetic particles. However, the field was very narrow. And they had applied science waiting for the results.

The LHC, however, helps us to understand the universe a little better. The discovery might change things in future. It also might not have a technical application. No one invests in such things without an outcome. Therefore these things must be government funded. The market is not solving all problems. And it is not solving many problems in the best way. It is a tool for certain areas.

Re:To all you leftist science geeks (1)

blue trane (110704) | about a year ago | (#42905489)

That's why business funded alternative energy research during the 1990s when oil dropped to $10 a barrel. Oh wait...

Re:To all you leftist science geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42906481)

"Useful" and "Profitable" are two very different things.

Re:To all you leftist science geeks (4, Insightful)

luckymutt (996573) | about a year ago | (#42906643)

Yeah!
Like that travesty that is NASA...if there was value to space exploration at all, then the free market would have stepped up in the 1960's and put a man on the moon!
Oh, wait a minute. There was no short-term profit and the R&D cost was so amazing only a government could pull it off.
Well, it isn't like there's long list of tangential advances that benefit all the rest of us now and which allow corporations to profit directly from.
Oh, wait.

Sure the government's main job is common defense, but seriously, if everything was left up to the free market we'd be no where near what we have now. I'm not even going to get into what NIH has done for the common good.

Re:To all you leftist science geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42916007)

Ummmmm, so HOW did the lunar missions benefit us?

so the cubs will win it all in 2015 and then... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42904851)

Some real bad will happen at the lhc

The Walls Come Down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42906701)

The Holy C ... resigns.

If called by GOD, there is no ... resignation .... no hiding.

Thus the Holy C was NOT called by GOD .... there is no GOD ... only ... money and ... the dead ... and regrets.

The LHC ... a machine ... that killed the Holy Vatican Church and its last Pope.

The real reason for the shutdown? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42906985)

Sybok: I couldn't help but notice your pain!
"god": My pain?
Sybok: It runs deep, share it with me!

Did I miss something? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#42907467)

July 2012

The ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN have just announced the discovery of a new particle which is consistent with a Standard Model Higgs boson. There is still a lot of work to do to confirm whether this really is the Higgs, and if so whether it is a Standard Model Higgs, but this is a major result

February 2013

The Higgs boson particle was first discovered by the LHC in 2012

Did I miss the "lot of work" between July 2012 and December 2012 that confirmed that the particle "is the Higgs, and if so whether it is a Standard Model Higgs".? Wow, I must have been asleep. According to this [wikipedia.org] maybe not.

However some kinds of extensions to the Standard Model would also show very similar results based on other particles that are still being understood long after their discovery, it may take years to be sure, and decades to fully understand the particle that has been found.

We've got a finger-moon problem (1)

garryknight (1190179) | about a year ago | (#42907783)

"A concept which, in theory, occupies the entire universe" - an excellent example of mistaking the map for the territory.

About values at CERN (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42908381)

just for the record, in order to warn any non-western members:

"The cost [...] has been evaluated, taking into account realistic labor prices in different countries. The total cost is X (with a western equivalent value of Y) [where Y>X]

source: LHCb calorimeters : Technical Design Report

ISBN: 9290831693 http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/494264

http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1127343?ln=en

I am Higgs... (1)

Lorem_Ipsum (759018) | about a year ago | (#42912149)

the great and powerful! If you want to see the boson you must bring me an 11th dimensional super string. That shouldn't take you more than 2 years.

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