For about a decade, the biggest machine on the planet has been the Large Hadron Collider, situated on the border between Switzerland and France. The main body of the collider is a giant ring over 5 miles in diameter and the entire facility employs thousands of people. But according to a new announcement from China’s Institute of High Energy Physics, it might not be the world’s largest machine for long.
The Chinese institute announced plans to build its own particle accelerator over the next decade, and it’s designed to surpass the LHC in every way. According to the report authored by the institute, the upcoming collider will be over five times more powerful and over 20 miles in diameter.
The proposed collider is called the Circular Electron Positron Collider, and was first proposed back in 2012. At the time, the specs for the collider were vague. Proposals ranged significantly in terms of size and power, so it wasn’t clear exactly how big or how much science would be done with it. That all changes with this latest announcement, which is accompanied by a 500-page detailed proposal for every last inch of the collider.
Here’s how the plan is going to unfold: First, the CEPC will be built with its 20-mile diameter ring. If construction goes according to plan—which it very well may not, considering the scale of the endeavor—the collider should be finished by 2030. The CEPC will then go into full operation, where it will begin producing exotic particles like the Higgs boson. According to the plan, the CEPC should be able to make a million Higgs particles over a decade, along with millions of other rare particles like W and Z bosons.
Currently, only handfuls of these particles are produced in the Large Hadron Collider, and their rarity makes them difficult study subjects. If scientists could drown themselves in these particles—metaphorically speaking, of course—they could learn so much more about them. These particles might also be key to unlocking new physics, such as discovering the identity of dark matter.
After ten years of making bosons, the CEPC will be retired. But in its place, scientists will build another collider, called the Super Proton Proton Collider, that will work exactly like a bigger, more powerful version of the LHC. This new collider will take advantage of the infrastructure already built for the CEPC and the advanced technologies that will likely exist by 2040.
With around five times as much energy as the LHC is currently able to produce, this second-generation collider might even be able to create new particles we’ve never seen before. With both of these new colliders, working in slightly different ways to produce different classes of particles at extreme energies, the mysteries of the universe likely won’t stay hidden for long.
Source: Institute of High Energy Physics