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posted by janrinok on Wednesday February 07, @01:07PM   Printer-friendly

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-68172162

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.


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Rich on Wednesday February 07, @02:27PM (6 children)

    by Rich (945) on Wednesday February 07, @02:27PM (#1343511) Journal

    [...] the LHC, which cost £3.75 billion to build, [..] started operating in 2008 [...].

    So they expect a collider that is about four times as long, dug twice as deep, including a stretch under the Lake Geneva and through France, to come in at 12 bn GBP after 20 years of inflation? That would be a steal. I read about a loose conversation with people involved in the Wendelstein stellarator saying they'd estimate they could do a working fusion power plant for 20 bn EUR. Maybe that would be a better investment in the same ballpark at the moment?

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by DannyB on Wednesday February 07, @02:57PM (1 child)

      by DannyB (5839) on Wednesday February 07, @02:57PM (#1343512) Journal

      More important than minor details about cost, there is a much bigger issue.

      The new machine is called the Future Circular Collider (FCC).

      Don't they know that FCC is already taken?

      We can expect a global acronym shortage within our lifetimes. How can this new collider be completed in the face of such a shortage?

      --
      Reminder: March is National Procrastination Week.
      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Wednesday February 07, @03:09PM

        by Freeman (732) on Wednesday February 07, @03:09PM (#1343515) Journal

        You jest, but with the aging of the internet a username, shouldn't be tied to your unique account identifier. Sure, you don't want 10,000 billgates@outlook.com, but something needs to change.

        --
        Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by PiMuNu on Wednesday February 07, @04:55PM

      by PiMuNu (3823) on Wednesday February 07, @04:55PM (#1343523)

      > So they expect a collider that is about four times as long, dug twice as deep, including a stretch under the Lake Geneva and through France, to come in at 12 bn GBP after 20 years of inflation?

      While I am somewhat skeptical of the FCC numbers, one should note that FCC requires much lower field magnets and so the cost per length for the installed equipment is expected to be lower. The cost for the tunnel would, of course, be higher by factor 3 (IIRC the tunnel cost for the LHC was about 1/3 the total budget).

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by sgleysti on Wednesday February 07, @04:55PM (1 child)

      by sgleysti (56) on Wednesday February 07, @04:55PM (#1343524)

      If you want a practical concept for electrical power generation from fusion that has a good chance of working soon at a reasonable cost, relatively speaking, check out Commonwealth Fusion Systems [cfs.energy]. It's an MIT spinoff. They figured out that a new kind of superconducting material enabled a breakeven fusion reactor that's much, much smaller than ITER and therefore easier and cheaper to build. They had the design peer reviewed in a series of 7 papers in a prestigious physics journal.

      Particle physics, at this stage, is done for the sake of learning and possibly for the side benefits of technology spinoffs and the experience that the scientists, engineers, and technicians gain while working on the project.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by PiMuNu on Wednesday February 07, @05:01PM

        by PiMuNu (3823) on Wednesday February 07, @05:01PM (#1343526)

        Note that the FCC dipoles require similar sorts of superconductor (High Temperature Superconductor), albeit in a dipole configuration rather than a solenoid/tokamak configuration.

    • (Score: 2) by sgleysti on Wednesday February 07, @04:58PM

      by sgleysti (56) on Wednesday February 07, @04:58PM (#1343525)

      Oh, and you're right. There's no way in hell this thing gets built either on time or within that budget. I think you could safely double both...

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Mojibake Tengu on Wednesday February 07, @03:15PM (4 children)

    by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Wednesday February 07, @03:15PM (#1343517) Journal

    The second phase will begin in the 2070s and require more powerful magnets, so advanced that they have not yet been invented.

    Yes, yes. I believe you. Fifty years ago, we were told regular space travel will be available for commoners in 2020s.

    Can I have a dark energy ray gun at least? That would be cool... Never mind, that's not physics, but a demonism.

    --
    Respect Authorities. Know your social status. Woke responsibly.
    • (Score: 3, Funny) by DannyB on Wednesday February 07, @05:37PM (3 children)

      by DannyB (5839) on Wednesday February 07, @05:37PM (#1343529) Journal

      I just want the flying cars we were all promised.

      --
      Reminder: March is National Procrastination Week.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Thexalon on Wednesday February 07, @05:59PM (2 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday February 07, @05:59PM (#1343532)

    £12bn is about $15bn, or around 1.7% of the US military budget. And given what they could figure out using this thing, it's likely it would pay off at least as much as the 150 F-35's they could buy with that.

    But I know, blowing things up is more fun than non-explody science.

    --
    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by PiMuNu on Wednesday February 07, @11:40PM (1 child)

      by PiMuNu (3823) on Wednesday February 07, @11:40PM (#1343559)

      I don't buy this argument - Russia is trying to take over Eastern Europe, China is trying to take over South East Asia. If WW3 is kicking off, a couple of Higgsons don't make a helluva lot of difference.

      • (Score: 3, Touché) by Thexalon on Thursday February 08, @03:01AM

        by Thexalon (636) on Thursday February 08, @03:01AM (#1343573)

        On the other hand, more F-35's won't make a difference if Congress has decided to prevent them from being used. Which has been their recent inclination.

        --
        The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by psa on Wednesday February 07, @07:36PM

    by psa (220) on Wednesday February 07, @07:36PM (#1343538) Homepage

    Caloric, phlogisten, ether, a dozen tiny rolled up dimensions...there's always some made-up thing they're trying to find.

    Everyone's using the Higgs Boson to justify this expenditure, but the Higgs Field and its carrier were much better developed and characterized than dark matter or energy. They had a real target, a solid idea of what it took to verify it, and some idea how to identify it if they found it. None of this is true with dark energy or matter.

    Really they just want a more powerful weapon to fire at the jungle of particle soup, and they're hoping something new will show up in the path of devastation to keep alive a stagnant field of science. But solving dark energy or matter with it would be entirely coincidental and require a lot of new science, since they don't actually know what they're looking for, and certainly don't have any strong science that says this money will give them any leads on it.

  • (Score: 1) by lush7 on Thursday February 08, @12:35AM

    by lush7 (18543) on Thursday February 08, @12:35AM (#1343563)

    I'm of the mind that Quantum Physics is wrong. It works for certain things, within a certain domain; but, eventually, there will still be gaps and holes, because it's flawed.

    I suppose, even if it is flawed, it might be possible to continue filling in gaps. However for me, the Higgs completes the Standard Model. It's done. That was the last piece. We had Earth Wind Water, and now we have Fire. It's time for some new science.

    Science is locked up behind way too many paywalls. It's just way too much wretch and no vomit.

    I dunno what the fix is, but... At the way things are going, I think the silicon sentients will figure things out before we do... Especially if the global trend in autocracy around the world is any indication of our intelligence, collectively as a species.

    Even if they do build this thing, and it does find something... We found the Higgs!? It was the holy grail, wasn't it? Where is the new science and technology?

    Perhaps we need to go back to the future, and find out where we went wrong. :p

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