Science fans around the world were saddened when CERN announced its Large Hadron Collider would be shutting down for almost two years worth of repairs and upgrades. As this video explains, that’s OK. When the LHC is powered up again in 2015, it will finally be able to run at full capacity.
You might recall that back in 2008 there was an incident that caused a helium leak and mechanical damage to the collider. Work was delayed an additional six months. As a result, during its first three years of operation, the LHC was operated well below its theoretical limitations.
So CERN is taking it offline for a couple of years to upgrade the superconducting interconnections between a series of magnets with an extra shunt that provides some place for current to escape if a similar incident occurs again. All in all, the facility’s technicians will install 27,000 of these shunts along the 27km long accelerator, which should finally let the LHC operate at full capacity once its back on its feet.