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China Science

China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC 219

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from the embracing-destiny-as-a-type-13-planet dept.
ananyo (2519492) writes Scientists at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing, working with international collaborators, are planning to build a "Higgs factory" by 2028 — a 52-kilometer underground ring that would smash together electrons and positrons. Collisions of these fundamental particles would allow the Higgs boson to be studied with greater precision than at the much smaller (27 km) Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Europe's particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. Physicists say that the proposed US$3-billion machine is within technological grasp and is considered conservative in scope and cost. But China hopes that it would also be a stepping stone to a next-generation collider — a super proton-proton collider — in the same tunnel. The machine would be a big leap for China. The country's biggest current collider is just 240 meters in circumference.
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China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC

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  • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @08:54AM (#47514649)

    So I said, "Super-collider? I just met her!" [audience laughs] And then they built the super collider. - Humorbot 5.0

    • Anecdote accepted. Snappy comeback not found.

      AWKWARD
    • Will they have to buy a new one every year?

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        Will they have to buy a new one every year?

        No, but the first one will turn out to be a cheap knockoff with out of date hardware that only gets a tenth of the advertised resolution and fails to work when it's cloudy outside.

        Also the user manual will be so bad, they won't figure out how to use it until 2045.

        • Will they have to buy a new one every year?

          No, but the first one will turn out to be a cheap knockoff with out of date hardware that only gets a tenth of the advertised resolution and fails to work when it's cloudy outside.

          They'll offer to replace it, but only if you pay the shipping costs to send it back to Shenzhen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @08:55AM (#47514663)

    Cern had how many set backs while trying to power the thing up in the early stages of testing? With all the corruption China has I wonder how this will compare.

    • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @08:59AM (#47514679)

      Either it will never work, or it's going to create a sub-atomic black hole that will eat up half of their installation, or it's going to create a soccer ball-sized black hole that could have destroyed our entire solar system if it weren't for the fact that aliens will stop them 3.14159265359 seconds before the event.

    • by jandersen (462034) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @11:35AM (#47515847)

      Cern had how many set backs while trying to power the thing up in the early stages of testing? With all the corruption China has I wonder how this will compare.

      Of course CERN had problems - this is not engineering, but science. The big difference between the two being that you call it engineering, when you know in advance how to do, and science when you don't. No doubt, the first time a simple van-der-Graf accellerator was built, they had to overcome a number of problems; now, it is something you'd let a student do, because all the technical problems have been ironed out. And when/if China builds this new cyclotron, they will run into a large number of technical problems; of course they will. No need to start constructing fables about "all the corruption"; all that says is that you are suffering from petty envy.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The big difference between the two being that you call it engineering, when you know in advance how to do, and science when you don't

        DEAD WRONG! When you have to figure out how to do it, it is engineering. When you can read a manual and know how to do it, it's IKEA. Engineering is building things to solve problems, science is about knowledge NOT building things. Of course, engineering uses science to engineer its solutions, and science uses engineering to acquire more knowledge. In any case, the LHC is a pr

      • by HiThere (15173)

        Actually China *does* have a lot of corruption. So does the US. But they have corruption in different places. (I can't speak for the EU, and I'm not even sure it's the same from country to country.)

        The question is "Does China have corruption in places that would grossly interfere with the construction of a large new particle accelerator? I don't know. The US did. The Supercollider proposed location was chosen because of corruption, and the project was cancelled because of corruption. OTOH, it would h

        • If the Chinese decide building this collider is a matter of National Pride and Honor, God help anyone or anything that gets in the way; any corruption will just be greasing the wheels of the juggernaut.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For all the downside of the one-party system and semi-centrally planned economy, sometimes I am jealous that China can just move forward with things like this. Environmentalist cry about a rare species becoming extinct? Screw them. A few thousand people displaced? Deal with it. If something is in the nation interest, it gets done.

    • by tomhath (637240)
      Envious of them because they're in the early planning stages of a collider that might be constructed almost 20 years after CERN's? It will be a nice step forward if they pull it off though.
    • by HiThere (15173)

      There are two major downsides to a one-party system centrally planned economy.
      1) Sometimes the guy at the top makes mistakes, and nobody who knows better can call him on them. See "Great Leap Forwards".
      2) Sometimes the guy at the top doesn't have the best interests of the country in mind, and nobody can make him.

      Mind you, the US recently has been exhibiting those very same problems. In the US it's fairly clear that the problem has been that:
      1) Corporations are not people. They should not have rights. (

      • You forget the main downside of all centrally planned economies.

        Excessive concentration of power. Power corrupts...it's actually amazing that socialism works at all.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          No. That was point:
          2) Sometimes the guy at the top doesn't have the best interests of the country in mind, and nobody can make him.

          If you want to call that corruption you can. In my mind it merely includes corruption.

          FWIW, I don't think that power corrupts, rather it's lack of consequences. This is closely related, but not the same. But it's also true that power attracts the corruptible (as a gradient). Different people are corruptible in different ways and to different degrees. And one consequence of

  • This sounds like a make-work project by the Chinese government to try to boost their economy. Construction is a huge business in China that accounts for a large portion of their GDP - that's why you see things like the "ghost cities" there, where construction workers built thousands of apartments and offices that aren't ever going to be used simply because the Chinese government needs to keep pumping money into construction.

    Digging a 57-kilometer underground tunnel would probably put plenty of construction

    • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @09:16AM (#47514781)

      Every country has make-work projects, some of them even have additional benefits - the EU is currently reviewing a energy savings plan where one of the main points is "costs will be offset by the jobs created to implement this directive". Make-work.

      In reality, the Chinese project is definitely not make-work if they plan to do actual research. The "ghost cities" you talk about are actually gradually filling up as more population moves from rural settings into the cities - this has been a long term goal of the Chinese government, but their "long terms" are a fair longer than the "around next election time" terms that westerners tend to think in.

      If you want to see some real "ghost cities" there are plenty in Spain, entire towns and cities, with airports, which were built to sustain the Spanish building industry during the 2008-2013 period, and the properties have never been put on the market.

      • Suboptimal Design (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Roger W Moore (538166) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @10:25AM (#47515311) Journal

        In reality, the Chinese project is definitely not make-work if they plan to do actual research.

        True but a circular design for a electron-positron collider is far from the most efficient. At the energies needed to create the Higgs the energy loss caused by bending the electrons around in a ring means that the ring has to be far longer in circumference than a 'one-shot' linear collider would need to be. Worse if we find something even more exciting like Supersymmetry in our next run of the LHC starting this coming March you will never be able to increase the energy of a circular e-p machine to study it whereas with a linear collider you can extend it.

        A circular machine only makes sense with heavier particles like protons but I question whether the cost savings of a single tunnel for both an e-p machine and a future proton machine will outweigh the massive increase in the cost of the magnets and accelerating cavities for the e-p machine.

        • There are a variety of tradeoffs between circular and linear electron / positron machines. At very high energies (>~500GeV CM) the circular machines become impractical At low energies (100 GeV CM) a circular machine is considerably simpler and cheaper. Inbetween the trade-offs are not completely obvious.

        • by jythie (914043)
          Not really. If nothing else, with a circular collider the beam can go around multiple times, increasing energy on every pass. The amount of energy you impart is only limited by how strong of a magnetic field you can create to twist the beam. With a linear collider when you run out of collider, well, run out. If you have 1km of linear collider you get 1km of acceleration, no more. They do not build all the big colliders as circles for the fun of it, they really are the most efficient design.
          • Not really. If nothing else, with a circular collider the beam can go around multiple times, increasing energy on every pass. The amount of energy you impart is only limited by how strong of a magnetic field you can create to twist the beam.

            Sorry but this is simply wrong. Look up synchrotron radiation [wikipedia.org]. For electrons this is a very important effect and your machine energy is limited by how much energy you can give to the electrons on each orbit of the machine. Even for the protons in the LHC this is a noticeable, but not energy limiting, effect.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          With a really large ring doesn't bremstrallung become less of a problem? And for protons that shouldn't be a problem at all.

          IIRC, when the Stanford Linear Accelerator was built there were comments to the effect than a longer one would always be impractical. This is clearly incorrect, as if one were built in space there wouldn't be any curvature problems, but it may inidcate that there are severe problems with building a longer one in a strong gravitational field.

      • by jythie (914043)
        Wait wait wait.. are you saying they have leaders who actually plan more then 2 years in advance? Yeah right, next thing you will try to tell me is they have corporations that plan for longer then a quarter.
    • This sounds like a make-work project by the Chinese government to try to boost their economy. Construction is a huge business in China that accounts for a large portion of their GDP - that's why you see things like the "ghost cities" there, where construction workers built thousands of apartments and offices that aren't ever going to be used simply because the Chinese government needs to keep pumping money into construction.

      Digging a 57-kilometer underground tunnel would probably put plenty of construction workers to work for a while - not to mention hauling in all the equipment, doing all the wiring and piping, etc.

      At least they're doing something constructive with their projects for once. As fun as the empty cities might be for film makers and urban spelunkers they're otherwise a huge waste. Maybe we can get China to build a space elevator!

  • Now if only they could find a source of cheap, expendable workers to mine the tunnel...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The estimated replacement cost for the Tappan Zee bridge in NY is about $4B. A small bridge was replaced near me at a cost of over $100M. It seems like something of this magnitude will cost a lot more than $3B.... or it's an incredible scientific bargain at this price.

    • Re:Cost Seems Low (Score:4, Informative)

      by necro81 (917438) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @09:24AM (#47514831) Journal
      The cost of the LHC has been estimated at $9 billion [wikipedia.org]. I know there are different labor costs between Europe and China, but there are lots of costs that can't easily be brought down. The tunnel's gonna need a whole lot of concrete, steel, etc. - global commodities whose cost doesn't vary that much by geography. The LHC is packed to the gills with custom components: everything from the the superconducting magnets to the RF generators to the detectors to the massive computing systems to sift through all the subatomic debris. Even assuming China has the technical expertise to create that custom componentry (a question I can't answer - I simply don't know)...

      does it pass even casual scrutiny to think that China can make a collider of twice the size at one-third the cost?
      • by khallow (566160)

        The tunnel's gonna need a whole lot of concrete, steel, etc. - global commodities whose cost doesn't vary that much by geography.

        And don't actually cost that much.

        The LHC is packed to the gills with custom components: everything from the the superconducting magnets to the RF generators to the detectors to the massive computing systems to sift through all the subatomic debris. Even assuming China has the technical expertise to create that custom componentry (a question I can't answer - I simply don't know)...

        I doubt they do. And I doubt that lack of technical expertise is actually an obstacle. After all, prior to constructing the LHC, Europe didn't have that expertise either and yet all those devices got built just the same.

        does it pass even casual scrutiny to think that China can make a collider of twice the size at one-third the cost?

        I bet the EU could do that too. But it'd require changing how they build such things.

        • by necro81 (917438)

          After all, prior to constructing the LHC, Europe didn't have that expertise either and yet all those devices got built just the same.

          I disagree: there is a decades-long history of building similar, though simpler, devices in Europe and the United States. Sure, there was a lot of invention involves and new challenges to tackle, but a lot of the fundamental technologies already existed. More importantly, there was a substantial population of people who had experience in designing such (earlier) technolog

      • Even assuming China has the technical expertise to create that custom component

        China almost certainly has a labor force can make the gear or can hire people who can if there are specific skills needed.

        does it pass even casual scrutiny to think that China can make a collider of twice the size at one-third the cost?

        No. I'm a cost accountant and I can assure you that China will not enjoy any meaningful cost advantages on a project like this. China might have a minor cost advantage due to cheap labor on the digging portion of the project but it wouldn't be hugely cheaper. The biggest costs will be the gear that goes into the accelerator and China enjoys no meaningful cost advantage there. It's al

      • by HiThere (15173)

        OK, so the first LHC cost $9billion. How much would the second one cost? I'd bet a LOT less.

        OTOH, this IS a new project, not a second LHC. That probably means that they'll run into new and unexpected problems. So the estimate is almost certainly wrong, and on the low end. (Not certainly. China's been doing some work with large 3D printers that print buildings, and, I believe, also tunnel construction machinery. And almost certainly on things I haven't heard about.)

        But, yeah, my guess is that the pric

  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @09:03AM (#47514703) Homepage Journal
    This is starting to get close to the Superconducting Super-Collider size. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]
  • by paiute (550198) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @09:03AM (#47514705)
    The problem with Chinese subatomic particles is that one half-life later you are ready for more.
  • Sounds cool. But, given China's perpensity to have massive earthquakes, is the building of such a large collider a wise idea? I would think a 57 mile diameter ring of superconducting, supercooled magnets and high vacuum might have some integrity and alignment issues even after a minor tremor let alone a large quake.

    • Those are circumferences, not diameters.
    • Certain regions are prone to have earth quakes, but not all regions, and not around Beijing. Almost all that do occur are in 2.5 - 5.4 magnitude rnage "Often felt, but only causes minor damage." Sichuan has had some bad earth quakes (8.0,etc) but it is not near Beijing.
      • by mark-t (151149)
        The point the poster made, which I think is legitimate, is that even a very small earthquake could probably be catastrophic for a collider's integrity and alignment.
        • The point the poster made, which I think is legitimate, is that even a very small earthquake could probably be catastrophic for a collider's integrity and alignment.

          That's an engineering issue that would exist no matter where you built the accelerator. You think there aren't fault lines near the LHC? Fermilab's Tevatron is within the New Madrid seismic zone. There basically is no place on earth that doesn't get earthquakes from time to time. You have to engineer the device with this in mind.

    • China is big. Saying China is prone to earthquakes is akin to saying the USA is prone to earthquakes.

    • Remember that the accelerator is in a tunnel usually through rock. Unless there is a fault line through the ring - which would be really stupid - the accelerator will be shaken and will need realignment but the damage should not be enormous. They have very successful accelerators in Japan.
  • The LHC created a higgs boson by colliding protons. This Chinese collider is planned (according to TFS) to collide electons and positrons. IANAPP but I am not sure that would create a higgs boson. However colliding an electon and a positron would create energy )matter and antimatter) probably in the form of gamma rays.
    Whereas colliding protons and antiprotons will give of some energy in the form of neutrinos

    In fact electrons and positrons are Leptons, so wouldn't this be called a Large Lepton Collider (LLC)

    • by jfengel (409917)

      One pathway for electron/positron collision can produce a neutral Z and a Higgs. In fact, they already tried that at the Large Electron Positron collider, the predecessor to the LHC. It came very close, at 115 GeV. There were hints of the Higgs, and so it came as no real surprise to find it just 10% higher.

      This is actually a more efficient way of producing Higgs particles, at lower energies. The LHC produces the Higgs with two quarks, but there are six quarks involved in the proton/proton collision, so a lo

  • by ctrl-alt-canc (977108) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @10:10AM (#47515181)
    Or the markets will soon be invaded by cheap made-in-China Higgs bosons. Although swiss-made Higgs are known to be by far more precise and accurate, the cheap chinese bosons will send CERN factory into bankrupt, unless some kind of duty is introduced to slow down foreign particles.
  • by wjcofkc (964165) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @10:12AM (#47515193)
    I accept that China is now a leader in science and technology. I wish them the best on this project and I am sure it will yield fantastic science. I just hope by "international collaborators" they mean more than the Russian Federation. As an American, I hope we get in on the action.

    Just one thing though: if you are going to go to the trouble to build such a big and expensive machine, why not build a linear collider? I realize it would take more land, but I'm sure they have it and the science would be even better. Correct me if I am wrong, but after the second refit of the LHC, isn't the next big international European science project going to be a big honking linear collider? At that point, it won't matter that China's collider is bigger, you can get more interesting results from a gigantic linear collider. Although the idea of a super-proton collider does tickle me a bit.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      As an American, I hope we get in on the action.

      After consistently screwing China out of collaboration for decades I can't see that happening. They are building their own space station because you wouldn't let them co-operate on the ISS.

      • by wjcofkc (964165)
        You are probably right, and in respect to cooperation space I am most concerned. It is only a matter of time before a nation (probably China) declares a region in orbit theirs. Worse, I suspect someone will eventually try to lay claim to some or all of the moon (again, likely China). It is sad because science, especially space science, should engender cooperation. If anything ever inspires us to drop our imaginary borders, it will be science. Conversely, if we go extinct, science will be the weapon.
  • They have hundreds of millions of single men which they need to keep employed.

    Good thing the US is mortgaging its future to keep China together today.

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @10:52AM (#47515501) Homepage Journal
    The President of the US will proudly announce the Free Education Market, in which all American children unable to afford a Million Dollar College Tuition common among even State Colleges on their own must apply for and accept a College Scholarship Loan from an approved provider in the National Marketplace. All recipients of these scholarships will agree to work for a salary reduced by up to 90% until the cost of the Scholarship is paid back plus interest of up to 20%. All Children who do not obtain a Scholarship from the Free Market will be barred from employment. The White House has hailed this a critical step in returning America to the forefront of the Science and Technology.
  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @11:18AM (#47515717) Homepage

    LEP operated around 209 GeV in 27Km so this Chinese proposal of 240 GeV at 52Km is.. underwhelming. Realize things like labor cost less in China but this isn't a high rise they are making. LHC cost amost $5B to build. Where is China getting the magnets? I'm not sure US export controls will allow a sale. And then there are those pesky detectors which are technological marvels themselves.

    Still unfortunate that we can't scale up anti-proton production to levels necessary for high luminosity.

  • Can they stir fry in that thing?
  • This story is giving me a hadron.
  • It can't work. I mean, no collider or supercollider can work, if they're built by a GOVERNMENT! Only private industry can build a working one...*

    Oh, that's right, all of them were build by governments. No company's going to do it, because there's no ROI, or if there is, it may not be for decades....

                      mark

    * Satire of libertarians, for libertarians, and others who aren't familiar with satire....

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      Better be satire, because that is factually incorrect, there are industrial colliders, a subset of the thirty thousand of commercial particle accelerators in the world, government owned ones are 3% of the total.

  • A ring for electrons? I thought that was impossible at those energies.

  • I think we'd all rather see a world where China competes with the west in science and technology.

    I am a scientist and I complain a lot about corruption in funding, publishing, and public representation of science; but as a whole it's a very honest and productive enterprise. This is much better than competing to see who can maintain the lowest cost labor pool or the biggest weapons.

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