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LHC Xmas shutdown today - massive boffin roister planned

'Dr Dark Energy' still thought to be plotting mischief

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Sad news for fans of the exciting new sport of ultra-violent hadron billiards today, as international science alliance CERN shuts down the Large Hadron Collider - most powerful particle-punisher ever built - for the Christmas break this evening.

Not everyone will be unhappy, though. Tinfoil-bonced apocalypse prophets, and more rational observers concerned over the possibility of an LHC-triggered interdimensional portal invasion, can relax and enjoy the festive season as of 6pm Swiss time tonight.

Meanwhile overworked CERN boffins, who have been toiling day and night to restart the mighty machine in recent weeks, will finally get a chance to let their hair down. We gather that a massive party is planned for this evening at the titanic machine's headquarters outside Geneva.

The boffinous roisterers will have much to celebrate. Not only has the great collider - 27km around, colder and emptier inside than deep space - been repaired following last year's unfortunate electro-blast superfluid ultracoolant explosion mishap, it has surpassed all expectations.

Shrugging off trifling setbacks in which cryogenic machinery was sabotaged by a feathered baguette-hurling saboteur - theorised by some to have been impelled to its dastardly actions by a mysterious force acting backwards through time itself - and then a technical hiccup which caused the entire colossal complex to blink out of existence* for several hours, the machine has performed several excellent feats.

First of all it shattered the world record for beam energy; then, to rapturous applause from the amateur LHC-watching community**, the record for collision energy was toppled in its turn, doubtless causing many a beard to be angrily gnawed among the rival boffinry team at the US Tevatron, hoping to snatch the coveted Higgs Boson from beneath CERN's nose.

The plan is now to let the partying boffins recover over Xmas while the midwinter electricity price spike passes - for the LHC uses suitably vast amounts of grid power - and then fire the beams up on the 20th of February next year.

It's to be hoped, for fans of the great machine, that its would-be nemesis Doctor Dark Energy doesn't manage to conclude his planned deal with Osama bin Laden to obtain an aircraft equipped with nuclear bombs, with which he plans to eliminate CERN boss Rolf Heuer "and all his bigbangers". This is in order to prevent the Earth being destroyed in a collaptic magnetic ring devil cataclysm event.

Barring the Dr DE/Osama nuke hookup or some similar misfortune - for instance more sabotage initiated by the interdimensional police, seeking to prevent humanity bursting out into the multiverse - the stage seems set for plenty more particle-punishing hijinx next year.

We'll keep you posted. ®

* On the internet, that is.

** Of course there's an amateur LHC-watching community.

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