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Large Hadron Collider: The big reboot Michael Chalmers October 8, 2014 Illustration by Andy Potts "As the Large Hadron Collider prepares to come back to life after a two-year hiatus, physicists are gearing up to go beyond the standard model of particle physics." Mike Lamont grabs the last croissant from a table and eats it as he walks through the control centre at CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics just outside Geneva, Switzerland. It is mid-morning, and the vast blue room is full of physicists staring into computer screens. Lamont, the operations manager of CERN's beams department, explains that they are running tests to ensure that an unexpected computer outage would not affect the network of electronics, vacuum pipes and superconducting magnets that comprise CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the most powerful particle accelerator in the world. This is one of numerous checks that are helping Lamont and his colleagues to sleep better at night. They are nearing completion of a major refurbishment that has been under way since March 2013. They have already started cooling down the accelerator's 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets in preparation for a restart next year. But when the LHC comes back to life, circulating its twin beams of protons in opposite directions around the ring, Lamont and his colleagues will be pushing to get as close as possible to its design energy of 7 trillion electron volts (TeV) per beam — nearly twice what the LHC has managed so far. Each beam will pack as much energy as a speeding freight train. Lamont knows all too well what can happen if things go wrong. He was here in September 2008, when the team last attempted to ramp up the US$5-billion collider to such energies — and ended up triggering an electrical fault that knocked it out of commission for more than a year and cost tens of millions of dollars to repair. “We've learned a lot about the machine since then,” says Lamont. The researchers managed to patch it up and get it working again by the end of 2009, although they ran it at only half its design energy to avoid another shutdown. Still, that was enough for collisions between the beams to produce conclusive evidence for the long-sought Higgs boson — the last unconfirmed prediction of the 40-year-old standard model of particle physics, which describes the behaviour of every particle and force known except gravity. But for all the acclaim that greeted the announcement of the Higgs particle in July 2012 — and the 2013 Nobel Prize awarded to the theorists who first conjectured its existence — there is much more that the LHC physicists hope to learn from the machine's upcoming run. Is the newly discovered Higgs the only particle of its kind, as the standard model predicts, or is it just the lightest member of a whole family? If there are more Higgs particles, some of them might appear at higher collision energies. Or perhaps the high energies will produce other new, exotic particles that have no place in the standard model." snip http://www.nature.com/news/large-hadron-collider-the-big-reboot-1.16095