Ambitious Plans for a £17 billion SuperCollider to Unravel the Universe’s Secrets Unveiled at CERN
Researchers at CERN, home to the world’s largest particle accelerator in Switzerland, have presented proposals for a colossal new supercollider, the Future Circular Collider (FCC). The £17 billion project, three times larger than the current Large Hadron Collider (LHC), aims to explore uncharted territories in physics, potentially unveiling particles that could redefine our understanding of the universe. While the LHC’s groundbreaking discovery of the Higgs boson marked a milestone over a decade ago, the search for elusive dark matter and dark energy has remained inconclusive.
CERN Director General Prof. Fabiola Gianotti envisions the FCC as a “beautiful machine” capable of propelling humanity towards a more profound comprehension of fundamental physics. The proposal outlines a two-stage approach, with the first phase operational in the mid-2040s and colliding electrons to generate an abundance of Higgs particles. The subsequent phase, slated for the 2070s, will employ more advanced magnets, currently nonexistent, to collide heavier protons in the pursuit of entirely novel particles.
The FCC’s planned circumference of 91km, double the depth of the LHC, is designed to accommodate higher energies without surface radiation concerns. The need for an even larger collider stems from the LHC’s inability, despite its £3.75 billion cost, to uncover particles explaining 95% of the universe—specifically, dark energy, acting in opposition to gravity, and dark matter, influencing the cosmos through gravity.
Critics question the £17 billion investment, with Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder of the Frankfurt Institute of Advanced Studies expressing scepticism about guaranteed success. Former UK government chief scientific advisor Prof. Sir David King deems such expenditures “reckless,” suggesting redirection of funds towards climate emergency endeavors. Additionally, debates within the scientific community raise considerations for alternative collider designs, such as a linear machine proposed by Prof. Aidan Robson of Glasgow University.
CERN is gauging reactions from its 70 member nations, including the UK, to determine the fate of this ambitious project that could potentially revolutionise our understanding of the universe.