This one will create a black hole for sure.
CERN boffins have started to imagine their next generation of atom-smashers, floating “an exploratory study for a future long-term project centred on a new-generation circular collider with a circumference of 80 to 100 kilometres.” CERN's current toy, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), boasts a circumference of 27 kilometres and …
Or maybe not.
To all available evidence, we have got all the particles down pat, there is bugger all up to the Planck scale, Stringers can go shove it, and the way forward is currently in precision measurements on neutrinos and muons. That and some hard-as-nails work in continuous group theory.
"To all available evidence, we have got all the particles down pat, there is bugger all up to the Planck scale"
That seems to me to be the real problem here. For every previous request for a new accelerator there has been a fairly plausible case that it will see new physics. By fairly plausible, I mean there is confirmed, existing, old physics that demands the existence of some new physics in the target energy range for it all to make sense. As far as I know, that's not the case this time.
"Stringers can go shove it."
Or, paraphrasing, these theories *may* be correct, but there are no existing observations that require the effects of supersymmetry or string theory to start being visible at energies of "just a little bit more than last time". Give that these new effects have roughly 20 orders or magnitude to hide in between LHC and the Planck scale, and even with unlimited cash we (*) couldn't hope to probe more than half a dozen of those, perhaps it is time to stop the accelerator game and find more subtle experiments.
(* We can't, but of course Mother Nature has access to considerably more violent machinery than we do, so if you have several billion to spend then the cosmologists are more likely to make the observations you are looking for.)
"To all available evidence, we have got all the particles down pat"
No! We have the standard model particle zoo caught and stuck on the wall. What we don't have are supersymmetric particles, which are likely going to need something bigger than the LHC eventually (only a few -ino particles are predicted to come into the range even the enhanced LHC can see), and besides that, we want to BREAK the dang standard model if at all possible, because it has to break at least a little to unify to gravity.
The proposed accellerator is likely too small, but as big as political realities allow even for discussion right now. It may also be that it has to be this big - too big a step up and you don't have anything energetic enough to run through it. CERN is a wonderful set of accellerators, some half a century old, that gradually speed up incoming particles for injection into the LHC.
Indeed Oh no!
The theory of supernovae is unproven, just another theory, therefore I hereby propose my own theory of supernovae as being the next bunch of intelligent, curious, alien scientists trying to track down their translation of Higgs-Bosson, not quite getting there, then building an even bigger particle accelerator, then "oh shit" shortly followed by a colossal inter-galactic KER-BANG!!!
As they saying goes, curiosity killed the cat :) No wonder we haven't found evidence of aliens yet, may be they all wiped themselves out as they got too smart-arsed for their own good.
The current LHC uses a smaller ring to pre-accellerate the particles before they are injected into the main LHC ring (search for "LHC map" for the layout, including "track junctions"). So I guess that the existing LHC tunnels will indeed be reused as the first stage of the possible new system.
Almost certainly. Pretty much all synchrotrons at CERN that are cutting edge are later used to feed into the next generation. The energy of the particles is built up in stages, starting from a simple bottle of hydrogen gas at the very beginning. You can see the current accelerator chain here. Some of the accelerators that now feed the LHC date back to the 1950s. The Proton Synchrotron, for instance, was cutting edge in 1959.
Well yes, you do have track junctions and marshalling yards.
CERN has an accelerator complex - the older, lower energy accelerators produce the original particles, which are then injected into the larger rings. So yup, you have a points system like a railway.
The SPS began operation in 1976 and is still used as the injector for LHC.
I'm not a physicist or an engineer, and no doubt these people know exactly what they're doing, but even experts have sometimes overlooked things.
At the levels of precision these colliders are operating, I'd have thought that building them in the Alps might introduce anomalies and gravitational distortions from having all those mountains scattered about the place. Granted, the gravity of a mountain is miniscule against the gravity of the Earth, but when you're trying to track the path of an unknown particle that might be affected by even a billionth of a g it might make enough difference to skew an expected result. To which end, wouldn't they be better off building it somewhere flat (like the Australian outback for example) to minimise possible distortion effects caused by rugged and uneven terrain?
Not to mention which, the Alps lie along a major tectonic fault line. Crustal compression is going to distort a ring on that scale over time, which is another reason building it in a more geologically stable area, like on top of a craton, might be a good idea.
I was initially thinking of the moon, but I think you're right.
Mars would be perfect. Only a few gravitational anomalies to work around.
Then again, a Jovian linear collider would be workable, in the flux pipe between Io and Jupiter.
Think big or go home in science!
Bones: Dear Lord... What if this thing were used where life already EXISTS?
Spock: It would PRECLUDE such life in favor of its new matrix.
Bones: Its "New Matrix"?
Chekov: DAMN! Sensors picked up a minor energy flux on the dyno scanner...
Terrrell: Maybe it's something we can transplant...
Marcus: "Something we can "transplant? Something We can "transplant"? Look you boys have got to be preCISE on this...
Terrell: Don't worry, Doctor...
Khanh: I've don't need to kill you, Kirk. I've left you maROONED, at the center of a dead PLANET, Buried Alive... BURIED ALYVE, BURRRIED ALYYYVE....
Shatner, via Priceline: CERNNNNN! CERNNNN!!! CERNNNNNN!!!!!
Hahaha... This thing will run rings around any life forms not transplanted
My apartment is inside that ring, so I would much prefer that they move it to Australia.....ie as far away as possible....
If things went wrong, no-one would miss the Aussies anyway..... Suggestions required for an antipodean icon, possibly an upside down picture of Darwin ( Charles not the city), it could then be usefull for a multitude of comments.
As an Aussie, I vote for Westralia - nice big craton over there. That said, you'd want to avoid building it any place that even smelled a bit like mineral wealth as you'd very certainly get your black hole then.
As for the Alps, perhaps the mountains actually are a benefits, blocking out some cosmic rays?
@Steven Roper - "To which end, wouldn't they be better off building it somewhere flat (like the Australian outback for example)"
Not only would those affects be minimised but if they putting it somewhere flat and uninhabited (like Australia) they wouldn't have to dig at all would they? Just lay the ring on the ground - that would be an awful lot cheaper.
If they need some earthly protection above the tube then they could cover it with spoil from a local mining operation (which is vast in Oz I beleive). Either way it would be a hell of a lot cheaper and simpler to lay a ring on the ground and cover it than drilling down 100m under France and Switzerland.
Doesn't the EU already have observatories and space vehicle launching sites outside of the EU? If so, then why couldn't they also build their collider outside.
anomalies and gravitational distortions
They have bigger problems with trains. A pre-LHC system at CERN used to display regular but slight variations that no-one could explain, until one day they stopped. Some bright spark realised that there was a train strike in France, and the the cause of the disturbances was the magnetic field created by the earth return currents from the passing 6MW TGV power sets.
Yes, I'm afraid you are really fumbling in the dark on this one ;-)
1) The protons in the LHC are sent around the ring in discrete bunches of about 10^10 particles, and actively guided and focused around the circuit by a series of dipole, quadrupole and sextupole magnets. If the ring gets "distorted" over time by geological movement, it doesn't matter - the circle isn't perfect anyway. Heck, it's not even flat - the side nearer the Jura mountains is lower than the other side of the ring. Pretty much all distortions to the ring require real-time magnet adjustments, and even the previous experiment that shared the same tunnel (LEP) could detect the distortions made by the orbit of the moon around the earth, and even the weight of snow + water on the Jura mountains as the seasons passed. The Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg can even easily detect the "Cultural Noise" of the working week, and how then energy of busy humans in the city above becomes less from Monday to Friday as people get more tired through the week. The relevant plot is here: http://i.imgur.com/WGP661R.png and there is more at http://vibration.desy.de/
2) The effects mentioned in 1) are all important when the particles are circulating for long periods of time (hours) in the storage ring; however these effects are unimportant within the detector volume where particles are only spending a few nanoseconds before either decaying, stopping, or escaping. Gravity really doesn't come into play within the detector volume - if it did, we'd have probably observed the graviton by now, which we haven't. These particles are moving just shy of light speed, and the gravitational differences caused by the odd mountain whilst tracking the particles through the detector volume (about the size of a large 6 story building) are just super-negligible. Errors are more likely to be dominated by the accuracy/calibration/alignment of the various detector components, and the ability to accurately determine the location of the bunch crossing within the detector - figuring out where two bunches of particles moving at light speed actually "meet" is not trivial.
3) Australia, etc, might be great in many ways, but it's *really* inaccessible. Given the thousands of people involved in these experiments, it's not really very practical to put an experiment in the middle of nowhere. Astrophysics suffers this problem with some of their crazier experiments, which really do need square-kilometers of surface detectors.
Anyway, I hope that brief taster helps you to understand just how much physicists think about these things, and how much they have already learnt from the experience of running these incredibly large-scale experiments :-)
Thanks, Fraz, for that detailed run-through ! May I point out, however, that in cases like these, the pedantic grammar-nazi ikon is hardly appropriate ; from your vantage point there at CERN, you should rather have chosen «May contain highly technical content ...», an example of which I've appended hereto.... ;-)
Tidal stresses induced by the moon can already be measured on the LHC track. These are far bigger than anything produced by tectonic movement (the alps are fairly stable), or by the mountains (which are stationary and therefore able to be mapped out of results)
Yes, there are probably better locations but the infrastructure is in place there and most other suitable places have issues with accessability, power, or politics.
"At the levels of precision these colliders are operating, I'd have thought that building them in the Alps might introduce anomalies and gravitational distortions"
Well - the LEP accelerator was so finely instrumented that it detected earth tides for the first time.
There was a small chaneg in the beam tuning noticed twice a day.
Investigations showed this was due to earth tides - like ocean tides, but the earth is moved (*)
(*) Yeah, yeah. Particle physicists make the earth move!
Sounds like you assume that the price tag scales linearly with radius. Why? I would expect at least R^2, but probably worse.
On top of that, if memory serves, LHC saved a lot of money by reusing the tunnels and much of the infrastructure of the earlier Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEP). It looks like digging the 100km ring will be a major expense.
At this point I suppose people are mostly waving hands rather than spending real money. The article mentions a 5 year long "feasibility study". That is an expense humanity can afford, I hope. And the intellectual exercise may well yield fruit by itself, too.
"At the end of the day we get it all back again."
Thanks for the economics lesson, but Keynes don't work that way. You can't just keep breaking everyone's windows, spending money on repairing them and expecting the world to recoup all of the money at the end of the day; some of it will be wasted.
I don't believe that $40bn or even $100bn on CERN would be a waste by the way, I'm just arguing with your basic economic premise.
Well, just slice something off government departments that do not really benefit mankind:
World wide military spending $1.7tn
NSA estimated $10.8 billion
USA armed forces 2011 $664.84 billion
GCHQ, MI5 & MI6 £1.9bn
Note that the above are annual budgets, a new collider would only be paid for once.
I vaguely recall from reading that to get from where we are atom-smasher-wise to an energy level that would reveal new stuff would be pretty big, certainly much bigger than the plan being envisioned. If that's actually the case, it would mean this plan is really just featherbedding for the CERN blokes.
Is that the case? I admit my memory about this is a bit hazy...
"...some time in the 2020s CERN would really like to be playing with a 100 TeV collider..."
So, 2029 at the latest
"...CERN boffins think that in about 25 years from now we'll need an even bigger collider to test theories based on LHC data..."
I make that about 2039.
Prepare to be disappointed, chaps.
"In a Hundred Years, CERN is illll leeee gulll... All yor dreems will dye... A hundred years CERN is illegul, and you hope will NOT SURvive... Bee You Ess TT, Our BIG Blue planet is GOo-nnn-oonnne. Can you hear my heart is screamin?!"
In 100 years, CERN will propose a Levitated Physical Equator (LPE) ... Finally, Earth will have its very own coaxial, contrarotating gravi/magneton belt.
Now, and by then, it'll certainly be SUPER at something: Super COLLECtor, hahahaha. Every country that wants to be considered a respectable country will print money to be a recognized signator of the LPE.
They don't want a new toy now. They're planning for a new one later, after this one is all worn out and like a silly baby toy. Soon, they'll be big scientists and need proper big-scientist toys. One day, they'll even need grown-up scientist accelerators - and just wait until you see the costings for those!
Could be, could be. Let's do the calculations:
e = mc2
Where: e = expenses; And mc = an after-dinner speaker who's eaten so many banquets, and drunk so much port, that his original weight has been multiplied by itself - and he's now pretty much cube shaped.
So what we can see is that for every year in office, the energy costs of accelerating our eurocrats to near the speed of light are multiplied by themselves - according to a ratio of how many banquets they have spoken at. With 700 Euro MPs, plus 30-odd commissioners (both numbers expanding), the energy required to do this is growing exponentially.
Worse, as you accelerate them towards the speed of light - their expenses approach infinity.
I suspect the CERN scientists would be better approaching this from the other direction. They could use their
collider portal to another dimension to summon foul creatures - and use them to rob banks / blackmail a bigger budget out of the Commission. Or they could put an accountant in the radiation backscatter from one of their eldrich machines and get him to create the Special Theory of Disaster Area Accounting - where he proves that spacetime isn't merely curved, but bent. And siphon all the expenses payments into their budget...
Strikes me that after many thousands of years of human development we are still only at the stage of banging the rocks together. Nothing terribly wrong with that, it eventually, after a very, very, slow start, led to some remarkable technology. Now the 'rocks' are just very very small indeed and are only fleeting examples of their earlier much larger counterparts. Maybe this collision thing tells us everything we would need to know about where and what we are, or maybe the next 'step' in our development is just around the corner and a very different and distinct kettle of quantum fishes is about to be fed to the dolphins. CERN - Concussion Experiments Requiring Neutrons. (well heavy lead ions and protons anyway).
... but that's one big device with a lot of sensors. How would you supply enough energy to power your ring and enough fuel to keep your immense ring in a stable position? Or, if you used a legrange point, would your ring be stable enough to not need prodding by attitude adjusters regularly? Whatever it is, pushing your ring into space would be eye watering.
"In a canned statement, CERN explains that the LHC was dreamed up in the 1980s and took 25 years to turn into reality. Starting a conversation now is therefore a fine idea, because CERN boffins think that in about 25 years from now we'll need an even bigger collider to test theories based on LHC data."
No. Unless these guys are going to fund that out of their own pockets. Don't confuse "tax payers" with credulous idiots like Yuri Milner.
How about you getting some new theories first and then we'll decide if we want to build (i.e. pay for) it. And those had better be scientific theories and not unfalsifiable or metaphysical bullshit like the landscape and the multiverse, and string theory in general.
'Course, considering how intensively the LHC was overhyped, I'm not sure that I'd trust these guys to tell the truth, where other people's money is concerned.
just for the record, in order to warn any non-westerner members:
"The cost [...] has been evaluated, taking into account realistic labor prices in different countries. The total cost is X (with a western equivalent value of Y) [where Y>X]
source: LHCb calorimeters : Technical Design Report
ISBN: 9290831693 http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/494264
Indeed, even while giving complete satisfaction, they have no forward vision about the possibility of pursuing a career at CERN.
This lack of an element of social responsibility in the contract policy is unacceptable. Rather than serve as a cushion of laziness for supervisors, who often have only a limited and utilitarian view when defining the opening of an IC post, the contract policy must ensure the inclusion of an element of social justice, which is cruelly absent today.
In my three years of operation, I have unfortunately witnessed cases where CERN duties and educational training became contradictory and even conflicting. This has particularly been the case when the requirements of the CERN supervisor conflict with the expected time dedicated to a doctoral student’s thesis.
"How should we make it attractive for them [young people] to spend 5,6,7 years in our field, be satisfied, learn about excitement, but finally be qualified to find other possibilities?" -- H. Schopper
More than 98% of the ERC’s grants are awarded to scientists in the old EU-15, with mere crumbs thrown to newer member countries.
quote from your contract policy link: "This policy, which leaves the staff member in the unknown for almost five years concerning the possibility of obtaining an IC, "...
Five years! You're complaining about five years!? In many other fields, you can count yourself lucky to get three years. And then you get ruthlessly booted out if there's no more money. I personally have an average contract length under 18months (over ~15+ years of uncertainty), and, on one occasion, was told (somewhat apologetically) that even if there was more money my contract would not be renewed, because if the institution did so, they'd have to make me permanent.
And, no doubt, since this is an IT site not a science one, you'll find commentarts quoting even worse situations.
I do take your point, and agree it's unsatisfactory ... but from where I sit, it doesn't look so bad. IMO, it's better to make the point that such uncertainty affects the amount and quality of the scientific output that the taxpayer/whoever gets for their money.
Good luck for your family though.
The people screwing other people @CERN _do_ hold IC, ie. indefinite contracts -- therefore actually they don't really need to care about the science part, so they don't (if this puzzles anybody, read ribbonfarm).
> In many other fields, you can count yourself lucky to get three years.
I don't think there's a field in science where PhD students and postdocs are not exploited as cheap, temporary, labor, and researchers are forced to jump from project to project. It took me 12 years to find a permanent position, my longest contract before that was 3 years.
In my field scientists can be divided into superstars who are famous and great at attracting money, and the faceless mass of postdocs, PhD students and project researchers doing the actual research for the superstars. If you've not got a string of publications in Nature and is the PI (principal investigator) in a Big Science project five years after dissertation, you are and will always be in the faceless mass.
The numbers make the problem clear. In 2007, the year before CERN first powered up the LHC, the lab produced 142 master's and Ph.D. theses, according to the lab's document server. Last year it produced 327. (Fermilab chipped in 54.) That abundance seems unlikely to vanish anytime soon, as last year ATLAS had 1000 grad students and CMS had 900.
In contrast, the INSPIRE Web site, a database for particle physics, currently lists 124 postdocs worldwide in experimental high-energy physics, the sort of work LHC grads have trained for.
The situation is equally difficult for postdocs trying to make the jump to a junior faculty position or a permanent job at a national lab. The Snowmass Young Physicists survey received responses from 956 early-career researchers, including 343 postdocs. But INSPIRE currently lists just 152 "junior" positions, including 61 in North America. And the supply of jobs isn't likely to increase, says John Finley, an astrophysicist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, who is leading a search to replace two senior particle physicists.
...tip it up on edge, vertically.
Then Beardy Branson and Elon Musk will participate in the project.
Beware, Musk will want to run the whole thing on batteries, recharged by solar power. And Branson will one day bring Justin Bieber along, leading to all sorts of trouble.
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