You may ask why one would speak about an upgrade while everyone is still in “acute anticipation” for the first few particles to make it around the machine? Perhaps there are even skeptics who doubt that we may never be able to circulate particles in this giant hole. I was recently browsing through the “LHC the guide” and stumbled upon one of the fascinating facts which may cool down that skepticism. Apparently, during that major tunnel digging, the two ends of the 27-km circular tunnel met up to within 1 cm!
Ok, that said, and if you believe in the “as soon as possible” version of the beam schedule, it is estimated that focusing magnets closest to the interaction point will reach the end of their lifetime circa 2013-14 (or before) due to radiation damage from collision debris. Instead of replacing exact replicas, why not do better. And why not, since these magnets do have the largest impact on the holy grail called luminosity.
So, discussions about the LHC upgrade began a decade ago which is now being coordinated under the CARE-HHH network, you can find all sorts of stuff here: http://care-hhh.web.cern.ch/CARE%2DHHH/default.html
After several workshops debating about what seemed like infinite new ideas, it now boils down to two contenders (both democrats, I think). Ask me in a couple of years and the priorities maybe completely different, physics and/or management. The U.S. folk under the LARP program (https://dms.uslarp.org/) have been very busy on the upgrade program since the beginning. Now more than ever, about 100 physicists from U.S. labs (this is lot for accelerator physics) are working very hard to get those particles circulating and yes, do even better next time around. It is perhaps a bit ironic, since the beginning of the biggest accelerator may also mean the demise of some other smaller siblings – sort of “survival of the fittest”. To be cont’d…