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More On The International Linear Collider 178

Posted by michael
from the get-cracking dept.
paragon_au writes "The UK Independent is reporting that details for a purposed 40km long international Linear Collider have been released by 'An international panel of particle physicists [that] decided the high-energy linear collider - a £3bn machine for smashing matter against antimatter - will use revolutionary superconducting technology to shed light on the origin and nature of the universe. Plans for the International Linear Collider have still to be finalised but scientists hope that construction of the underground machine will begin in six years.'"
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More On The International Linear Collider

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  • Yay No Curves (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    As much as we all love CERN, Curves don't allow electrons thus no clean experiments. electron collisions are clean and pretty!
    • How would you build a straight tunnel on earth ?
      I mean, we're in the 21th century, no-one will believe you if you say earth is flat.
      • Err. What?

        Since when have you needed a flat surface for building a straight _tunnel_ (that word ought to give some hints), you realize these things are built underground, right? No need to follow the curvature of surface.
    • Re:Yay No Curves (Score:5, Informative)

      by Gil-galad55 (707960) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @03:42PM (#10038995)
      Actually, curves do allow electrons. It's just that an accelerating particle radiates energy (synchrotron radiation), and that radiation increases exponentially as mass decreases. The LHC uses protons because their much larger mass (~1000 greater) siginificantly decreases synchrotron radiation. The previous accelerator at CERN, the LEP, occuped the same tunnel and used electrons and positrons. However, while the LEP could only reach energies of ~200 GeV, the LHC aims for 27 TeV. A linear accelerator nips the problem of synchrotron radiation in the bud.
      • Actually, curves do allow electrons. It's just that an accelerating particle radiates energy (synchrotron radiation), and that radiation increases exponentially as mass decreases.

        Is this really true when the particle is moving at ultrarelativistic velocities? A 1 TeV electron has about as much mass as a 1 TeV proton (akin to the "pound of feathers vs. pound of bricks" riddle). They're also both moving close enough to C to make the difference in velocity academic.

        If I'm overlooking something, please let m
        • Re:Yay No Curves (Score:2, Informative)

          by Gil-galad55 (707960)
          It has to do with the total energy you can get. At relativistic velocities, E = gmc^2, where 'g' is the famous relativistic 'gamma', 1 / sqrt(1 - v^2/c^2). Here, relativistic effects are accounted for solely by gamma, so m is the particle rest mass, and the rest mass of an electron is about 1/2000th (I goofed on my previous post saying the factor as ~1000) that of a proton. So, for equivalent energies, you have a gamma approximately 2000 times higher for an electron than for a proton.

          Now, synchrotron r

    • Well, according to John Titor [strategicbrains.com] CERN will allow humans to create the first localised black hole in 2007. This leads to new scientific breakthroughs, eventually leading to limited time travel (around 30 to 60 year jumps max).

      Of course, if that happens, along with how the US is currently regressing as a society, you can be reasonably certain that in 2015 the US will be devastated by a short but horrific nuclear war.

      So, if CERN does indeed create a black hole around 2007, you'd be well advised to move away fro

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2004 @01:30PM (#10038341)
    shed light on the origin and nature of the universe.

    That's fine and dandy, but we already know the answer to life, the universe, and everything. What I want to know is, what's the question. Can this thing help?? ;)

    • He didn't put one in the books for a reason. There isn't one.
    • It will help us, among other things, close the link between matter and energy. It sounds very star trek, I know, but it's one of mankind's greatest achievements waiting to happen. It's also a step closer to a working unification theory or (dis)proving string and superstring theory, supersymmetry, and m-theory. These may or may not be the follow-ups that can cast a shadow on general and special relativity, just like Einstein did to Newton.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2004 @01:31PM (#10038344)
    It's called the Trans-Canada Highway.

    (It's an immature joke so I'm posting it AC.)
  • finally! (Score:2, Funny)

    by sosuke (789685)
    a toy that i can finally put to good use, smashing things never gets old!
  • by twiddlingbits (707452) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @01:32PM (#10038348)
    THe old Superconducting SuperCollider (SSC) is still there, half built in Texas. All the buildings are still intact and the tunnels are still there (just closed off). Would THAT be cheaper. As I recall it was also about 40km in length. I live near that site and I'm sure that we could make someone a HECK of a deal on the site. Of course there are people living nearby now but it's not going to be a hazard. IIRC, The collider at Stanford (SLAC) goes under houses, campus bldgs and a freeway. Oh right, I forgot, common sense and high-energy high $$$ physics projects don't go together.
    • You forget that no one trusts the US anymore.
      • In Fact, I'm not sure _I_ trust us anymore!
      • Yeah, because you never know what kind of conspiracy theory can take root in a super collider run by an international team of scientists. I'm sure there is some way to make a conspiracy theory out of this. After all, we all know how electrons routinely bow down to US interests.

        Damn intolerant fool, your anti-americanism is getting the better of you.

        • Re:Chances of Life (Score:2, Insightful)

          by gears5665 (699068)
          its tough being anti-american and an american at the same time...I actually like myself... but I completely understand the rest of the world not wanting to give our government their money. Which is exactly why good foriegn policy is so important to a nation. Our science is directly and negatively affected by the anti-science position of the current Administration. I was trying not to rant...I think I explained my points.
          • Re:Chances of Life (Score:3, Interesting)

            by onyxruby (118189)
            I cant stand this administration either, and think Bush is a fool. I also think his anti-science policies are rubbish. But please don't let that cloud your judgement of our country. At most he can only be in office four more years, leaving him out of the picture long before this thing could ever be built and functional.

            As for being anti-american at the same time as being American, it's not tough at all. We've always had the most vehement American haters home grown. Their are blacks that are racist against

            • Re:Chances of Life (Score:2, Insightful)

              by RWerp (798951)
              Want to change international perception, than help encourage the US to build big science projects like this. The US needs to once more be the worlds top destination for scientists, and this is one of the ways of doing so.

              Suppose the USA builds a great scientific project and invite scientist from all over the world, what will happen? Half of them won't be let into the USA for 'security reasons'.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          I'm sure there is some way to make a conspiracy theory out of this.
          I am sure you are alluding to the well known fact that this is all part of the plan to give Dick Cheney Spidey-Powers and send him back to before the time of the dinosaurs so that he can influence the size of the US oil reserves.
        • Don't forget to mention that Fermilab (with a piddly 4 mile ring collider) is already heavily involved in the international scene. Sometimes it seems like more people speak russian there than english.

          Quick, start up the conspiracy theories!
    • Straight vs Curved (Score:3, Informative)

      by DumbSwede (521261)
      Wouldn't Linear be a straight line Tunnel?
      Your half built SSC is curved.

      We could revisit reactivating the SSC project, but that's a different debate.

    • There is the small problem of the Atlantic Ocean.
    • by Ev0lution (804501) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @01:47PM (#10038423)
      The SSC was a circular collider, not a linear collider, so it isn't a direct replacement. ILC would study collisions between electrons and positrons. With circular colliders, one problem is that particles lose energy as they go round the ring (due to synchnotron radiation). As the energy increase these losses also increase. This is less of a problem for heavy particles (e.g. proton-antiproton) collisions, but circular colliders don't scale well for electron-positron collisions, hence the need for a linear collider.
      • Well, I'm NOT a physicist by any means! I was just trying to see if there was a lower cost option (smacks head...that damned MBA is kicking in again and overrulling my techiness). I wonder if you could boost the energy with the more modern technology available today (better magnets) and get the energy needed and still come out cheaper?
        • by vondo (303621) * on Sunday August 22, 2004 @03:03PM (#10038827)
          Magnet's don't boost the energy, they only bend the particles. The RF cavities boost the energy. So, with better magnets, you can build a smaller, more powerful proton accelerator, but they don't help you with an electron accelerator.

          The problem with an electron accelerator is that energy is lost due to the bend radius and unless you have a very large accelerator, you quickly get to the point where energy is coming out just as fast as you can put it in. Solution: an infinite-bend-radius (linear accelerator).

          What I haven't seen mentioned here yet is that we use both types of accelerators (proton and electron) for different reasons. Protons colliding give the highest energies and the collisions produce a wide variety of particles and interactions at a variety of interaction energies. Electron collisions are much cleaner, but tend to be at lower energies and rates. (This is because electrons are fundamental particles but protons are made of 3 quarks each and it's really the quarks colliding.) But, if you know the energy (mass) of the particle you want to study, you can produce them reliably and in a very clean environment so you can study them more precisely.

          • To be even more picky, the proton is actually made up of an infinite number of virtual particles, and for many processes of interest, it's dominantly collisions of virtual gluons which contribue.
    • The SSC? (Score:5, Informative)

      by daveschroeder (516195) * on Sunday August 22, 2004 @01:54PM (#10038460)
      The SSC [hep.net] was originally intended [wikipedia.org] to be a 54 mi (87 km) ring. 14 miles of tunnel were complete.

      Despite the incredible importance of this research - not to mention basic research in general - it was dismissed as a boondoggle and sandbox for particle physicists [cato.org].

      More reading: Science and Patriotism run amok in Texas [washingtonpost.com]

      • Re:The SSC? (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Despite the incredible importance of this research - not to mention basic research in general - it was dismissed as a boondoggle and sandbox for particle physicists.

        It was dismissed because its head administrators had no idea of how to budget an R&D project. They treated all the cost estimates as if they were standard contracts for a mature technology. When their fixed-price fixed-schedule plan did not survive contact with reality, they cooked up a new fixed-price fixed-schedule plan and presented i

      • Despite the incredible importance of this research - not to mention basic research in general - it was dismissed as a boondoggle and sandbox for particle physicists.

        After reading the linked text I have this strange impression it's been written by somebody who just hated his high-school physics teacher. Probably also never graduated from it.
    • Obviously, you don't live in Texas. I was unable to find the source document; but the following quote states the reason quite clearly:

      "This reminds me of the Super Collider, when it was suppose to come to UC Davis. Instead it went to President Bush Sr's home state of Texas. If you remember, that was a boondoggle. The thing was plagued with problems including fire ants that were attracted from miles around whenever the thing was turned on for tests -- then [the ants] would eat the wires down to the core!!!

    • I thought it was America's poor electrical infrastructure.. but cough... could be the whole common sense thing.
  • I can hear the scientists planning this now...

    "Okay, we'll make this like, really huge collider and we'll smash matter and anti-matter together really fast, like SSSSKRKKRAASSSH. Oh man, this will be so awesome."
  • The final frontier (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is the future. There is no way we're on this little blue planet at the edge of a galaxy, one of millions in the universe, without a practical means of travelling around. There simply must be a way to do it. If we can't increase the speed, then shorten the distance. I don't know what scientific magic we'll end up with, but I suspect it's buried deep in partical physics.
  • More news (Score:5, Informative)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Sunday August 22, 2004 @01:46PM (#10038413)

    German lab wins linear collider contest [physicsweb.org]

    Particle physicists have chosen to base the proposed International Linear Collider on superconducting technology developed by an international collaboration centred on the DESY lab in Germany. The superconducting approach was chosen by an international panel ahead of a rival technology developed at Stanford in the US and the KEK lab in Japan. The eagerly-awaited decision was announced at the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Beijing today.

    The 30-km-long International Linear Collider (ILC) will collide electrons and positrons together at energies of at least 500 billion electron volts. Particle physicists will use the ILC to make detailed studies of the Higgs boson and any other new particles, such as supersymmetric particles, that might be discovered at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). It is envisaged that the ILC will turn on by around the middle of the next decade, about eight years after the start up of the LHC, which is currently being built at CERN in Geneva.

    Is this the answer to God, the universe and all that? [guardian.co.uk]

    Physicists plan £3bn experiment in a 20-mile long tunnel

    They call it the God particle: a mysterious sub-atomic fragment that permeates the entire universe and explains how everything is the way it is. Nobody has ever seen the God particle; some say it doesn't exist but, in the ultimate leap of faith, physicists across the world are preparing to build one of the most ambitious and expensive science experiments the world has ever seen to try to find it.

    ITER Impasse Illustrates Challenge of Site Selection [physicstoday.org]

    ...indeed, site selection is often a thorny matter, even for scientific projects not as costly or international as ITER or the next-generation linear collider.

  • by SaberTaylor (150915) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @01:51PM (#10038438) Homepage Journal
    it puts the antimatter in the particle accelerator or it gets the non-unified description of our Universe.

    btw, here's an idea. so string theorists say that electromagnetism and other stuff is caused by extra dimensions that are too small to see. what i was thinking a couple days ago during a heat lightning storm, is that it relates to another part of string theory. namely the idea that our universe is like a soap bubble among a conglomerate. then the extra dimensions could be the axes to adjacent universes. perfect.

    keep in mind that cosmology/quantum mechanics are non-intuitive. :o) but einstein's special theory of relativity was instigated by the simple idea that acceleration and gravity are equivalent.
    • by Aardpig (622459) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @02:02PM (#10038488)

      namely the idea that our universe is like a soap bubble among a conglomerate. then the extra dimensions could be the axes to adjacent universes. perfect.

      Do a Google for 'brane theory' -- it is similar to what you appear to be thinking of.

      but einstein's special theory of relativity was instigated by the simple idea that acceleration and gravity are equivalent.

      That would be 'general theory' -- special relativity deals solely with unaccelerated frames of reference.

      • Yeah.

        Bad Universe, Bad! *Spank*

        How *dare* you do what we don't want you to do! :D

        ---

        Sorry, that was a brain fart inspired by my cats, who casually (and occasionally causally) violate our most cherished theories of how things should be :) I'm not sure they understand the theories of unaccelerated frames of reference :D

        Like another poster put it in his sig once, beware blue cats moving at .9c :D

        Heinlein may have been on to something :D

        SB
        • Shadowbearer's attempt to inject humor into this thread/time stream is likely to fail utterly due to the ability of some observers to alter what they see by merely observing.

          I believe the human outlook on that is to "Take it with a grain of salt" - which is a very broad aphorism, akin to "burning the midnight oil". An ancient scientist put it very well once, in saying that the observer affects the observed. However, he was more or less universally ignored outside of the fields of physics, to the detrime
    • einstein's special theory of relativity was instigated by the simple idea that acceleration and gravity are equivalent.

      Errr, no. It was General Relativity.
  • FEL anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imsabbel (611519) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @01:51PM (#10038440)
    Wasnt this supposed to be combined with the new free electron laser build there? That the electron part of the collider would also feed the FEL?
    • The FEL is already working (at least the first stage) and it has a seperate electron source. IIRC it is far more important for the electrons to have a very sharp velocity/energy distribution than to have high energy.
    • Re:FEL anyone? (Score:5, Informative)

      by stevelinton (4044) <sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk> on Sunday August 22, 2004 @03:43PM (#10038998) Homepage
      There was a proposal, called TESLA for a 500GeV linear collider, combined with an X-Ray FEL at DESY. They built a far ultra-violet FEL as a technology demonstrator for this.

      The recent announcement is that the accelerator technology that had also been developed for TESLA, using superconducting resonant cavities to support very high intensity microwave standing waves that actually accelerate the electrons has been chosen from among four candidates as the acclerator technology for the ILC project. That may or may not be buolt at DESY, and will not, as far as I know, incorporate an X-ray FEL.

  • by r.future (712876) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @01:52PM (#10038445) Homepage Journal
    I see scientists getting skate boards, or roller blades on and hurting them selfs as they have jousting tournaments in the thing. On the up side, I bet they will come up with some really bad ass new kinds of armor as a result of this project... maybe even some cool really fast skate boards.
  • Purposed (Score:3, Informative)

    by Elladan (17598) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @02:00PM (#10038481)
    "Proposed"

    That is all.
  • Any possilility that a collider of this size could result in an exotic, yet disastrous incident that could that spell our sudden and premature demise?
  • This sounds strangely like the plot-line from Half-Life... Do I smell a prequel?
  • Might as well bring up the mention of strange matter before some other paranoid ninny does. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strangelet . Unlikely it could be made, but I'm sure the same people who worry about neutron emissions and world destroying asteroids will like this also.
  • by NitsujTPU (19263) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @02:08PM (#10038521)
    ...again.

    Isn't that ALWAYS what they say about these things? Nobody ever says "This is to help us built anti-matter bombs."

    That said, sounds exciting, let me go ahead and echo what the other poster said WTF happened to the SSC?
    • I'm not too scared of that. People have learned enough about thermonuclear weapons that the atimatter genie won't be let out ASAP. WWII was the reason nuclear weapons were produced so early. In the new era, ear isn't about inflicting total destruction at the largest scale. It's about surgical precision. That's why I'm more afraid of directed energy weapons than antimatter weapons.
      • Precisely.

        At this point in our technological development, it'd be much cheaper and easier to design spacecraft that could utilize kinetic weapons such as asteroids.

        Antimatter weapons are a long, long ways in the future, thank whatever gods who watch over human idiocy, if any :)

        But.. the tech will come. Let's just hope that when it gets here we aren't developing strategy to deal with it years or decades behind the introduction of it, like we did with nuclear weapons.

        Right now I'm much more scare
    • We can already build single bombs big enough to destroy entire countries at a time. Not even the craziest madman could need or want more than a hundred or so H-bombs, and that many already exist I'm sure. If the bombs get any bigger, they'll destroy both sides in any war. Everyone knows this, so what possible motive could they have for developing bigger bombs? And even if they did make bigger bombs, would we be any worse off? So they could blow up the earth a million times over instead of a thousand ti
  • Location. (Score:3, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @02:14PM (#10038548) Homepage Journal
    I think they should build it....

    oh, I don't know, maybe 40 or so km from SCO's headquarters? ;)
  • Circular Colliders (Score:5, Interesting)

    by musingmelpomene (703985) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @02:20PM (#10038580) Homepage
    While I understand that electron/positron collisions require the linear accelerator, doesn't a lot of this hinge upon the discovery of the Higgs boson? I mean, basically, this whole project is being built with the assumption that the Higgs boson both exists and will be possible to study in a 40 km LinAc. I'm all for new particle accelerators, but I'm also all for not using money needlessly. It seems to me that it would be prudent to delay starting a project of this magnitude and international importance until we're sure that all the hypotheses regarding the Higgs boson are correct. Additionally, the whole "superconducting accelerator" thing is hardly new. The Tevatron at Fermilab (which is the fifth stage of a five-stage particle accelerator) already uses superconducting magnets. Anyone happen to know if this LinAc is any different from that (other than the obvious straight/curved difference) or if journalists just like to say "revolutionary superconducting technology" as if they know what they're talking about?
    • by vondo (303621) *
      I believe it's the accleration cavities that are superconducting in this design, which is not the case with the Tevatron or the LHC (I think). Yes, this fundamentally different technology.

      Your concerns on waiting to build this are shared by a number of physicists. But, in 6 years we should know about the Higgs if it is where most theories place it. It's important to do the R&D now so the LC when it's needed.

    • by jpflip (670957) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @03:12PM (#10038866)
      Yes and no. The Linear Collider doesn't depend on the discovery of the Higgs per se, but it does become more compelling if the LHC (or Fermilab) discovers _something_. The most likely scenario is that the LHC (which comes online in 2007 or so) at CERN will discover some new things - supersymmetric particles, the Higgs, the physics that gives us neutrino masses, etc. The Linear Collider would then be used to study what's been discovered. If the LHC doesn't see anything interesting (which most physicists think is unlikely, because of various arguments, but it's possible), then the Linear Collider will be a lot less useful. But there are a LOT of different ideas for what the LHC could discover - it doesn't all hinge on testing one particular model.

      From the physicists' point of view, though, you don't want to wait that long. Say the LHC starts in 2007 (though such projects are often delayed) and discovers something by 2009. Then you start a proposal for the Linear Collider, which you finalize by 2012. Then you build it, and it's working in 2020. That's a LONG wait! These projects take so long that physicists want to get the ball rolling and construction started ASAP.
      • Actually this is one of the few times in science when we really can be certain that we will see something interesting with a new accelerator. Certain cross sections exceed unitarity, i.e. the probability of two particles interacting exceeds 100% at LHC energies if we simply extrapolate existing theory to ~1TeV. Since this is a nonsense result we either have to see somethng new even if its just a completely unexplained bahvaiour of these cross-sections or we have to reinterpret was 100+% chance of interactin
    • It's useful to think of cyclotrons as the "big sticks" of particle physics, and linacs as the microscopes. Cyclotrons will almost always be able to reach a higher center-of-mass energy since they can "re-use" RF accelerating cavities. However, above certain energies, the synchrotron radiation of light particles becomes too lossy (iirc, the LEP at CERN used 10 MWs of power just to keep up with losses to synchrotron), so you have to move to heavier particles. That's why electrons are perfect for linacs.

      W

    • by funkbrain (217835)
      While I understand that electron/positron collisions require the linear accelerator, doesn't a lot of this hinge upon the discovery of the Higgs boson?

      Yes! Well, sort of.

      I am a particle physicist (at the Tevatron). It has been my understanding (and it seems to be conventional wisdom in the field) that the (US) decision to actually go ahead and -build- the NLC will be made -after- the first new discovery at either the Tevatron or the LHC. (Right now the NLC is just in the R&D phase, and is far enough a
  • The article and talks a great deal about discovering the origins of matter. I am not a physicists so I really don't know the answer to why this takes precedence over other scientific problems, for example discovering a cure to cancer or AIDS?

    3 billion is a lot of money, and I am sure there are AIDS or cancer researchers who badly need it, and I can actually see a benefit to humanity in those cases.

    I am not against spending 3 billion on science just for the sake of improving humanity, in many cases we hav
    • Answers. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SKorvus (685199) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @02:40PM (#10038690) Homepage
      You're absolutely right: humanity is facing some immediate, pressing problems: the environment, overpopulation, soil & water depletion, and disease as you mentioned.

      For the most part however, these are human problems, with human solutions. We know what causes overpopulation, and that in turn results in environmental damage, starvation etc. We also know what causes AIDs; and its spread is more a result of governmental unwillingness to educate their populations and promote safe sexual practices, than lack of medical technology. Likewise, cancer is largely a Western disease, and diet & lifestyle plays a large part in the likelihood one gets it: it's for the most part preventable.

      But here we are, in a Universe. While we've made significant progress, we still don't really know what the hell it is. What are the rules? What makes everything happen? How did it come to be? Pursuing the answers to these fundamental questions is natural human curiosity, and the same drive that has led to many of our other scientific and technological advancements.

      Knowing the answers may not be of use to the average person, other than possibly having another neat formula to put on T-shirts. But having a complete model of how the universe works, may result in many spin-off technologies. I'm speculating, but they may include things like quantum propulsion, true nanoscale engineering, new materials development... who knows.

      Politicians are going to be idiots and let people die of preventable diseases, breed until they wipe out the natural world, etc. But should particle physicists simple twiddle their thumbs while humanity consumes itself; or busy themselves seeking a better understanding of the cosmos we inhabit, and perhaps giving us better tools to improve our world and ourselves?
    • by panurge (573432) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @02:48PM (#10038741)
      Cutting edge physics research cannot be guaranteed to have spin offs. This is because real science is (duh) experimental. However, let's just follow through one particular train of thought:
      1. Research into cancer and AIDS is a branch of biochemistry.
      2. Biochemistry depends on science like DNA sequencing and protein folding
      3. DNA sequencing and protein folding need fast computers
      4. Fast computers need leading-edge engineering and physics.
      5. The structure of DNA was clarified partly as a result of X-ray analysis
      6. The discovery of X-rays was a byproduct of pure research into conduction of electricity in gases
      We have no way to be certain that deeper insights into the fundamental structure of matter will contribute to solving other biological problems - but we have no ay to find out other than to do it.

      You might also like to consider that $3billion is less than drug companies spend on advertising and promotion every year.

      • The trouble with this train of thought is that the science that you are talking about is very very far removed from basic physics. Even at the chemistry level, none of the equations are useful beyond very basic cases. For example in molecular dynamics simulations of proteins - the answers are nearly always wrong because of problems in the force fields. These problems are not due to any lack of understanding of the underlying physical equations but the lack of computable approximations in a complex environm
    • What do we get out of this?

      A lot...cast your mind back 100 years to the period when a strange new science called Quantum Physics was making its debut. This new theory grew out of the need to explain a few strange results from the experiments of the time. Of course at the time this theory was extremely esoteric and not much use to the common person on the street. However application of this theory to semiconductors lead directly to the development of modern computers. Of course, nobody at the time, least o

    • Realistically, there is no practical short-term ( 20 years) say benefit likely to arise from physics at these energies.

      Short term benefits come in spin-offs from the technologies used to do the physics -- better magnets, materials, cryogenic technology, computing, microwave technologies, and loads more. Experience suggests that spending a proportion of your science budget trying to "push the limits of the possible" with some inspiring, but not necessarily directly useful project, such as landing a man on t
    • 1. thing to get out of these research...

      High energy nuclear physicists have jobs. Thus they are not tempted to work on other project that might be somewhat less neutral benifit to their fellow man.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    From what I understand, we need at least 1 Trillion eV collisions in order to judge whether or not the higgs particle or supersymmetry are physical realities. But for the press releases,I get the impression that this project, at least in the eralier stages, is only meant to act as support for the LHC (i.e. refined versions of sub-TeV experiments done there). Why not ,go for the big prize right away?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Energy isn't everything; you can do things with electron-positron colliders that you can't with proton colliders like the LHC. For instance [europhysicsnews.com],

      Because electrons and positrons produce collisions that are much "cleaner," they are viewed to have certain advantages above the colliding protons in the LHC for investigating energies above those reached by LEP. There is much less background, and the production rates for new particles or events are not that different from the known production rates, says Peter Zerwa

    • by vondo (303621) * on Sunday August 22, 2004 @03:13PM (#10038872)
      Not quite. The Higgs and SSM particles are expected to be less than 1 TeV in mass. With a proton collider, you need a lot of extra energy because you produce many, many, other particles. But, because they are easier to build and have higher collision rates, they are ideal discovery machines.

      With an electron-positron collider, you can make these new particles singly or in pairs and use up all the energy, so they are great for doing detailed studies of the particle in question.

  • ...An article in the times that was basically the top 10 things that can kill us all, I can't remember what number it got to but it was on there. anybody know if these things are safer now, or what makes them so dangerous?
  • They'll probably start colliding particles in order to find a graviton. Though the particle has been postulated, and its properties have been mapped out (they have different theories for different models of the universe--one for point-particle, one for string-particle), they've yet to observe it. Frankly, what would be really cool is if they were able to observe a disappearing graviton, with the proper distortion waves in space to at least postulate that the graviton has left our brane (see M Theory for a
    • That's probably not the first thing they'll do, but not because it's not interesting. In most theories, the energies needed to directly explore quantum gravity (string theory, M-theory, etc.) in this way are more than 15 orders of magnitude higher than this accelerator can achieve. The first order of business is to look for physics at the TeV energy scale, such as the Higgs boson and supersymmetry.

      There will, of course, also be people sifting through the data looking for the things you describe - low-ene
      • Very good point. I was just typing in the most exciting idea that came into my head at the time.

        Of course, we used to have a supercollider project on the board, but alas, it was axed over 10 years ago. The site's still there...they even have signs for it on I-45 just south of Dallas. Yes, they're still there. It's too big of a hole in the ground not to notice.
  • how this works (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 22, 2004 @03:04PM (#10038830)
    FROM A PHYSICIST:

    First Why. Natural Science is a lot like mining. Physicists discover things about nature. They attempt to put together an idea of how the fundamental works, both large and small, and create methods to predict phenomena based on these ideas. Applied Physicists and Engineers then take this knowledge and ask themselves the question "How might I use this for mankinds advantage". A simple example is the transister. The transistor could be the most powerful invention of the last century. But, without the knowledge of quantum mechanics discovered by natural physicists the transistor would never be. Natural physicists mine for the knowledge that will be later used for application. Their are countless examples of this from maxwell and wireless applicatons, certainly quantum mechanics and solid state technology, and even general relativity and GPS satellites.

    Second Linear Collider vs SSC, etc: The linear collider is not a discovery machine per se. It is a precision measurement machine meant to refine knowledge about discoveries that will be made by the Large Hadron Collider which is being built in Europe. Natural physics isn't about finding a particle alone. This does nothing for us. It's about building and understanding a model of nature that can later be used to predict phenomena as accurately as possible. Neither of these machines is focused on a single particle (HIGGS, SUSY, etc.) Saying so is the equivalent of saying we're building a workbench to put together only rocking chairs. Our 'workbench' is an experiment meant to study interactions spanning the entire current model of nature. It is an expensive tool, but keep in mind once it is built it will last 20-30 years (fermilab as an example). I don't believe it's very expensice considering this keeps the flow of technology rolling.

    Superconducting: The magnets proposed are revolutionary because they will be at 2 kelvin. Fermilab operates at 70+.
  • by TeknoHog (164938) on Sunday August 22, 2004 @03:30PM (#10038939) Homepage Journal
    and we pronounce linacs as 'linacs'.
  • We'll wind up accidentally discovering an interesting new way to create a really big explosion.
  • by reptar64 (220617)
    From the article:

    "Last year, physicists accurately measured for the first time how the universe is composed. They found that only 4 per cent of it was made up of visible atoms, with the rest being mysterious dark matter and dark energy - neither of which entities can be seen."

    SF author Ted Sturgeon once noted that "90% of everything is crap" (he actually said "crud", but "crap" sounds better). So, according to the article, they refined the estimate to 96%. How many more digits of precision will $5B get
  • Putting on my finely-crafted silver "Blue Sky" thinking cap, scientists might want to consider building the IIC, or more likely, its successor, on Luna:
    • Already in vacuum - only need the last stage of vacuum pumping to catch the few ballistic molecules;
    • No need to dig tunnels, just build it on the surface;
    • Might not even need an enclosure - just pylons with the accelerating magnets. Collisions with ambient particles will occur, but system can compensate by accelerating more particles. Collision products

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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