Researchers at the world's biggest particle accelerator in Switzerland have submitted proposals for a new, much larger, supercollider. Its aim is to discover new particles that would revolutionise physics and lead to a more complete understanding of how the Universe works. If approved, it will be three times larger than the current giant machine. But its £12bn price tag has raised some eyebrows, with one critic describing the expenditure as "reckless".
The biggest achievement of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was the detection of a new particle called the Higgs Boson in 2012. But since then its ambition to track down two holy grails of physics - dark matter and dark energy - have proved elusive and some researchers believe there are cheaper options. The new machine is called the Future Circular Collider (FCC). Cern's director general, Prof Fabiola Gianotti, told BBC News that, if approved, it will be a "beautiful machine".
[...] The proposal is for the larger FCC to be built in two stages. The first will begin operating in the mid 2040s and will collide electrons together. It is hoped the increased energy will produce large numbers of Higgs particles for scientists to study in detail.
The second phase will begin in the 2070s and require more powerful magnets, so advanced that they have not yet been invented. Instead of electrons, heavier protons will be used in the search for brand new particles.