Science & Technology
CERN set to back Hadron Collider successor
By T.K. Randall
June 20, 2020 · 8 comments
Will the Future Circular Collider get built ? Image Credit: CERN
Plans are in motion to replace the gargantuan atom smasher with a new accelerator that is four times larger.
Built between 1998 and 2008 in collaboration with more than 10,000 scientists and engineers from around the world, the Large Hadron Collider - officially the world's largest machine - consists of a ring approximately 27km in circumference which is situated near Geneva, Switzerland.
Over the years it has been responsible for many discoveries - including that of the Higgs boson - but to advance things ever further, a much larger particle accelerator is going to be needed.
To this end, on Friday CERN is expected to approve the construction of what has become tentatively known as the Future Circular Collider (FCC) - a 100km behemoth that will be four times the size and six times more powerful than the existing Large Hadron Collider.
Costing over 20 billion Euros, the new accelerator could take many years to build, but when it is ready it will be capable of advancing the field of particle physics far beyond what is currently possible.
The new accelerator could also help to unravel the secrets of dark matter and energy.
As things stand however, even if CERN does approve the new facility, there is no guarantee that it will be built, especially in the economic aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
"On some level I find it irresponsible," said theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder. "Why don't we put the money into an international center for climate models or pandemic models ?"
The Large Hadron Collider itself, which is set to resume operations in 2021, will continue to conduct experiments until at least 2027, after which it's future will become uncertain.
"It's probing nature at the shortest distances and looking for the smallest things we can see... it's a real exploratory mission," said Professor Jon Butterworth from University College London.
"Everyone agrees that's what we need to do."
"The question has been: what's the best machine to do it ?"
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