Science and Technology Facilities Council
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LHC Update: STFC welcomes the news that the LHC will run in 2012!

As the UK national partner in CERN, the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is delighted that the first year of operations at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been so successful that operations will be extended through 2011 to the end of 2012, increasing the likelihood of finding new scientific breakthroughs before the shutdown.

A planned long shutdown will now take place at the end of 2012, instead of 2011. CERN announced this last week (28 January 2011) following their annual science planning meeting.

The LHC set records for high energy particle collisions in 2010, but requires a long shut down period for upgrades before it can operate at its full capacity (7TeV).

Professor John Womersley, Science Programmes Director for STFC explains: "The LHC is an exploration machine - its goal is to look for the new physics phenomena that must start to show up at collision energies where our current understanding of the universe breaks down.  We don't yet know for sure whether these effects will be visible at the LHC's current record - breaking energy levels (3.5 TeV) or whether it will need something closer to the design maximum for the LHC, but we do know that to see new physics requires collecting very large amounts of collision data.

"Given the exceptional performance by the LHC during 2010, particle physicists around the world will, I am sure, join me in welcoming the decision to operate the machine in 2012 and to continue the hunt for supersymmetry, for dark matter and for the elusive Higgs Boson for another two years before we pause to upgrade."

CERN recently (September 2010) approved a 5 year Mid Term Budget plan with its member states. The shut down period will still fall within this 5 year window, so the overall budget for running the LHC remains the same.

The LHC will start operations for 2011 in February, with a short technical shutdown at the end of the year.

For more information on the decision, please see the statement on CERN's website (link opens in a new window).

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