It was only two weeks ago that we were getting excited about the Large Hadron Collider preparing to smash some serious atoms, but now it's been announced that it will be shut down for a year for safety issues. Why?
The problem, according to those in charge, is that the LHC is too powerful for its own good; if it were to run at full power, it's possible that it could tear itself apart. Director of accelerators and technology for the project, Steve Myers, is putting a positive face on the issue:
I wouldn't call it a design flaw. It is just that some of the copper stabilizers are not up to the quality needed to go to the full energy level.
The shutdown will not take place immediately, but is expected to happen in two years' time; until then, the LHC will run at half-power so as not to risk a FlashForward-scale event, potentially pushing out the project's most exciting discoveries to 2013 or later.
Hadron Collider to be closed amid fears of a very big bang [Independent.co.uk]