Enlarge / The LHC’s ATLAS detector while under construction. (credit: Brookhaven National Lab)
Believe it or not, particle physics has a season, just like baseball. Running a massive particle collider takes a lot of energy, so operators schedule downtime for periods when local energy demand tends to be high.
For Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, located on Long Island, that means summer air-conditioning season is to be avoided.
For CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, demand for winter heating is what sets the seasons.
And, as those in the Northern Hemisphere may have noted, the winter is now over.
It’s particle season again, and today marks the first stable proton beams of 2017 in the LHC.
The 2016/2017 winter break was much shorter than the two-year downtime that saw the LHC upgraded to handle collisions at energies of 13 Tera-electronVolts.
Still, the people who run the hardware use the winter breaks to do maintenance and typically some minor upgrades.
So, each spring, they go through the process of recommissioning the hardware and making sure it’s all working properly before starting any collisions.
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