Located on the border of Switzerland and France, the LHC sends two beams of protons in opposite directions around a 17-mile ring, and six detectors collect data from these collisions. Scientists design computer programs tailored to pick the most interesting collisions out of the 600 million collisions produced every second.
A copy of the data from those collisions is recorded and kept at CERN. As of the shutdown, CERN had collected a colossal 100 petabytes of data; roughly double the amount it would take to collect every single word of every single human language in existence.
Repairs will address a 2008 malfunction that caused the collider to run at half power until now. The machine ran at 8 trillion electron-volts (teraelectronvolts; TeV) in 2012, but when the shutdown concludes at the end of 2014, it should run at 14TeV, providing the highest-energy collisions ever attempted. At the same time, scientists plan to increase data transfer capabilities higher than the current six gigabytes per second.
But CERN physicists aren't worried about a two-year delay in running more collisions to look for more phenomena. 100 petabytes of data will give them plenty to analyze and report on in the meantime.
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