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Ask Slashdot: Should Scientists Build a New Particle Collider In Japan? 292

gbrumfiel writes "The world's most powerful particle collider ended an epic proton run yesterday morning, and researchers are already looking to the future. They want to build a 31-kilometer, multi-billion-dollar International Linear Collider (ILC) to study the recently-discovered Higgs boson in more detail and to look for new things as well. Japan has recently emerged as the front-runner to host the new collider. The Liberal Democratic Party, which won this weekend's elections, actually support the ILC in its party platform. But it's not yet clear whether real money will be forthcoming, or whether European and American physicists will back a Japanese bid. What do Slashdotters think? Does particle physics need a new collider? Should it go to Japan?"
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Ask Slashdot: Should Scientists Build a New Particle Collider In Japan?

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  • Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@wo[ ] ['rld' in gap]> on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:09AM (#42324381) Homepage Journal

    World class universities and scientists, a willing government and easy access to the country for foreign nationals. What's not to like?

    • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Funny)

      by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:22AM (#42324489) Journal

      Located on God's shooting range...

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        In all seriousness Japan is pretty much earthquake proof. They got hit with a magnitude 9 quake and hardly anything collapsed, hardly any was killed. I was on the 5th floor of a shop in Tokyo at the time and really the damage was minimal.

        Tsunamis are a different matter but likely won't affect this thing. Plus it will be properly looked after and can't melt down or anything like that.

    • Plus, they have a large tract of land that is inhabitable on the surface. Easy access, no complaints from the locals!

    • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @10:16AM (#42324999)

      Probably the most expensive place to build on the planet, other than some small nation-states or large cities.
      Though Andorra may be pretty cheap.

    • Are they asking for my permission?

      Because if you've got the money, knock yourself out. Just don't come looking for my tax dollars unless you want my strings attached.

    • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by s13g3 ( 110658 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @11:32AM (#42325779) Journal

      Indeed! What's not to LOVE about the idea of building a multi-billion dollar piece of scientific equipment whose scale qualifies it for one of the most mammoth--yet still delicate--engineering projects in human history, which depends critically on the entire thing staying in one piece (usually built below-ground) and in perfect alignment...

      in one of the most seismologically active countries on the planet.


  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:10AM (#42324387)

    Does a multi-billion 31 km long particle collider that must remain aligned belong in one of the seismically most active areas of the world?

    • They should build this in Florida. Lots of space, seismically stable, and we could use the boost to our state economy.

      • hurricanes

        • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

          Colliders are built underground, so hurricanes would only affect support structures. NASA seems to not have a hard time operating from Cape Canaveral, right on the ocean where hurricanes hit hardest.

          • by Alomex ( 148003 )

            Underground you say? How about flooding, or is that something that tends not to happen to underground structures during hurricanes?

      • by dtmos ( 447842 ) *

        They should build this in Florida.

        I'm not against this idea at all, but the water table is so high in most places in Florida that it would be really difficult to do. One needs to drill down less than 20 feet in most places to reach water. It's why one sees so few (substantially zero) houses with basements in Florida.

        • Why would you dig? If you don't want it outside, bury it. You don't need to first dig a hole to do that.
      • It can't be built in the USA: we tried this before, about 20 years ago, and it was a disaster. The same thing would happen here: a new President would get elected and suddenly funding would be dropped and the project would never be finished. The USA needs to be left out of all serious science projects like this: we've proven we're simply not capable of following through with any large projects any more.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Not only would it be in an earthquake zone, with a lot of obvious ramifications as to the stability/credibility of whatever data they generated,
      but frankly Japan is one of the most densely populated areas of the world, and I would think that if they believed they had the room to build
      this thing that they could make better use of the space for the indigenous population. I'm sure there are some people crammed into small urban
      apartments who would prefer to live in something a little nicer.

    • by stms ( 1132653 )

      Not only that but another multi-billion dollar project that humanity already has 2 of? Isn't there something else that would benefit the scientific community in a new and different way?

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      one of the seismically most active areas of the world?

      No problem, don't build it in the south. From memory Japan is Fing huge compared to what westerners think (like your average USA guy thinks Japan is smaller than Maine, but its huge, from like 20 degrees N to like 50 degrees N, making it, I believe, "taller" in N-S direction than the entire USA). Also the south is geologically active whereas the north is getting to be about as geologically stable as Wisconsin.

      Its kind of like saying the American West suffers horribly from earthquakes. Well, yeah, the cit

      • From memory Japan is Fing huge compared to what westerners think (like your average USA guy thinks Japan is smaller than Maine, but its huge, from like 20 degrees N to like 50 degrees N, making it, I believe, "taller" in N-S direction than the entire USA).

        Japan runs from 24 to 46 degrees N, but it's no more than 200 miles wide anywhere as far as I can tell by glancing at the map. The us runs from 65N to 125N and is 3000 miles wide, it's a whole hell of a lot bigger. 9,826,675 km2 (3rd) vs 377,944 km2 (67th.) Japan is tiny. In addition Wikipedia (which is damned slow this morning) says that over 73% of Japan is unsuitable for development. Japan is not even on the top 20 list of countries where it makes sense to build something like this. As well, how are they

        • At 377,944km2 Japan exceeds all but Alaska, Texas, California, and Montana in land mass and Japan is only about 4000km2 smaller than Montana.

          • At 377,944km2 Japan exceeds all but Alaska, Texas, California, and Montana in land mass and Japan is only about 4000km2 smaller than Montana.

            So just to be clear, the US is the third largest nation, not the first or even the second, and it has four states with more land mass than Japan, and Japan isn't a small nation? Oooooookkkkkaaayyyyyyyyy. There's smaller, and the USA is massive, but that doesn't change anything I've said.

            If anything, Japan's accomplishments are all the more impressive when considered in terms of its land area, especially given what percentage of it is considered usable. But it is small. Why do you think they're so damned goo

        • The US runs from 65N to 125N

          Errr... on some hypersphere Earth, possibly. On the real earth, you can't get north of 90N.

  • Just imagine, how many starving people could be fed with all the money!!!111!1eleven1

    (Of course they wouldn't actually be rescued, the money would go to lobby organisations, military spendings etc. instead, but since that was always the case that does not have to be questioned.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We could feed *all* starving people with only the amount of food we waste.

    • Hire them to work at the new facilities. Problem solved. Not particle physicists? Everywhere needs a janitor!

    • Re:Noooo! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RicktheBrick ( 588466 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @11:01AM (#42325481)
      This is like a child who has not opened all of their Christmas presents and yet demands more. The Cern Collider is not even at maximum power yet. At least wait until a couple of years of using it at maximum power before deciding that we need a new one. How about the one that is on the international space station? I thought that there were collision from particles from super nova that were much more powerful than even the new Cern Collider. At least play with the toys you have now before asking for new ones.
      • Why not focus on the ultra high velocity particles coming in from space? In short, luminosity []. The rate of collisions is so much lower and uncontrolled in terms of where the collisions happen that it's much more difficult to gather the bulk of data that is required to demonstrate statistical significance in the findings. Also, check out the pictures of the scale of the detectors installed at the LHC. They're positively enormous, and just as important to the performance of the facility as the power level
    • Feeding useless eaters does nothing to move mankind forward, and DOES breed more useless eaters. Send them birth control instead.

      Quality of life goes with smaller families, even in the US. The idea of throwing food at people who refuse to change their culture to a less self-destructive one is silly. It may make donors feel good, but it isn't really "helping", "Helping" is teaching those people ways they can feed themselves, provide sanitation for themselves, pump and conserve water themselves, (there's a th

  • by slim ( 1652 ) <john@h a r t n u p . n et> on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:11AM (#42324401) Homepage

    This would make a perfectly reasonable news item; there's no need to solicit Slashdotters' opinions. People comment anyway.

    99% of comments will be ill-informed. You won't be able to identify the 1% which are well informed, unless you're already knowledgeable on the subject. So why bother?

  • Earthquake risks? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by holiggan ( 522846 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:14AM (#42324433)

    Just my 2 cents, but shouldn't the ILC be built on an area with a reduced earthquake risk?

  • by acidfast7 ( 551610 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:15AM (#42324445)
    As someone who spends a lot of time in multinational scientific facilities (e.g. the Swiss Light Source) ... I don't understand the "Should it go to Japan?" question. It's infrastructure for the greater scientific community, so it doesn't matter where it's built.
    • As someone who spends a lot of time in multinational scientific facilities (e.g. the Swiss Light Source) ... I don't understand the "Should it go to Japan?" question. It's infrastructure for the greater scientific community, so it doesn't matter where it's built.

      Sure it does! Political, geological and socioeconomic stability are prime factors in building one of these things. Why the SSC [] showed us that politics and economics will ruin your particle collider. So if Japan is better with their money than the US and has a geologically stable site and doesn't go to war with China in the near future, it's a good site.

      Selecting a good site will increase your chances of it actually becoming infrastructure for the greater scientific community. Just ask Weinberg [].

      • That's because the SSC was a US-only project, compared to the LHC or the SLS. The "I" in ILC stands for International, indicating that more than one country will pay for it. The SSC was cancelled because Congress didn't want to cover the rapidly expanding costs, this won't happen with the ILC. Also, Japan has "agreed" to cover roughly half of the total cost because it would be the "host" nation.
    • That's because the question is not "should it go to Japan?", but "will the equipment be safe if it's built in Japan?".
      • Japan has the best earth conditions. You guys are overestimating the effects of earthquakes. Personally, based on my location, I'd like to see it built at DESY, but it's unlikely with the local soil conditions :(
  • I was under the impression that Japan is very crowded and that most rural, open space is limited when it comes to construction or is protected park land. 31km is HUGE and if they have the room, well than go for it.

    • The flat parts of Japan are crowded, the interior, where the mountains are, is empty. That's why playing golf there is insanely expensive, but skiing is practically free.

  • I'm curious about the scientific justification of another particle collider. The data from the LHC, ATLAS, and so forth has been amazing and it's possible to collide almost any subatomic particle in them so why do we need another? I'm not making a point, I'm asking a question.
    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

      I'm assuming that "liniar" is the key word.

      Also am I the only one that thinks it's hillarious that they build a multi billion dollar round thing that basically told them what they really wanted was a multi billion dollar straight thing!

      • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

        * Linear

        Also like about 2/3 of the comments, I would be seriously concerned about the earthquake thing and the population thing. I mean maybe these are not as bad as everything thinks, but it seems like the two most obvious reasons "why not" wern't even addressed.

  • by Isarian ( 929683 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:40AM (#42324641)

    When will people stop publishing news articles saying "the Higgs has been confirmed to exist"? This is driving me bat-shit insane. No, the Higgs has NOT necessarily been discovered. Particles have been observed in the LHC at energy levels that match the expected characteristics of the Higgs, but we DO NOT KNOW if it is the standard model Higgs or just something else that looks like it. Goddamn.

    Read more: []

  • by grimJester ( 890090 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @09:41AM (#42324657)
    The ILC would be able to measure properties of the Higgs more accurately than the LHC, but before the LHC has ran at 13 or 14 TeV for a while we don't know if there's other interesting stuff to see.

    If the LHC finds something new and the ILC has too low energy to produce it, it's wasted. Obviously those results would come long before the ILC is even close to finished, but it's important to keep options open until we know better. In addition there are other proposals for Higgs factories that would be cheaper to implement. Without new discoveries at the LHC the ILC may be pointless.
  • At what point do we taxpayers say enough is enough? The LHC was crazy expensive to build and to run. They still havent definitively found a Higgs particle which is pretty much what it was built for, yet now after just 3 years its aparently already declared useless?

    At the end of the day, so freaking what if they do or don't definitively find a Higgs particle. How will that knowledge improve normal people's lives in any practical way that justifies the massive cost?

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      You really don't get it, do you? You just lack any understanding of science and who it integrates into society?

      People who think like you wouldn't have funded Einstein becasue you can't understand basic research doesn't have a end product goal.
      Find out all you can as accurately as you can. Industry, engineers, and many other clever people will figure out a use.

      Did anyone realize how solar cells would become important? lasers?

      Figuring out how the fabric or reality works will have profound effects on what we k

    • Why improve the lives of normal people in a practical way when you could stumbled upon a virtually unlimited energy source that could power a massive spacecraft and also propel it close to the speed of light. The one-percenters could sell spacecraft to each other and leave the "normal people" to deal with the polluted and destroyed planet they leave behind for a new life in a new star system.

  • The WP article [] says the physics case is the following:

    "1. Measure the mass, spin, and interaction strengths of the Higgs boson

    "2. If existing, measure the number, size, and shape of any TeV-scale extra dimensions

    "3. Investigate the lightest supersymmetric particles, possible candidates for dark matter"

    This is very weak.

    #2 is pretty much dead, since the LHC's observations don't look very compatible with large extra dimensi

    • The LHC isn't that great for precision measurements of Higgs properties (mass, production cross section, branching ratios for decays). If there's a small deviation from the SM, the ILC could find what the LHC can't.

      For supersymmetry, I'm not sure if the ILC could see anything at all given how high the masses have been pushed by the LHC already, but upping the energy from the current 8 TeV to 13 or 14 and adding 10-100 times the data can still give the LHC a chance to find SUSY.

      Large extra dimensions was a
  • by fearofcarpet ( 654438 ) on Tuesday December 18, 2012 @11:16AM (#42325633)

    As a scientist I have to say that we are the last people who should build something this large. For starters, our efforts are better spent doing science. Many of us are also old and out of shape. I suggest that, instead, we find some contractors to build it--they probably need the work more anyway. However, if it is decided that scientists should indeed build a collider, I want to be in charge of the hollering: "Shake it madam! Capital knockers!"

  • I thought about it, and I've come to a definite conclusion. . .

    I don't know bupkus about linear accelerators, so I'll let the scientists and engineers who DO KNOW figure it out.

  • Is there no way to profit from the existing investment?

  • Is there really a demonstrated need for another large collider? If so build it but I'm not so sure this isn't a case of tool envy.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Becasue one we had microscopes that could see germs, we didn't need to build better ones?
      Once telescopes could see Pluto, should we have stopped?

      These are tools that are used to literally peer into the very fabric of reality. I say that without Hyperbole.

  • Do you expect giant robots to just appear?

  • Could a linear collider share a tunnel with an undersea rail network like the Seikan Tunnel [] that already exists in Japan? Or would the railway interfere with its operation? There are other long tunnels in the world too, like the Channel Tunnel [], but the undersea portion of the Seikan Tunnel does looks very straight.

    From looking at images of various parts of the LHC, it seems the majority of the collider's apparatus does not require that much space around it, although the actual detectors, etc, obviously will

  • China might be better in many respects: Fewer earthquakes, money's definitely no problem, science shouldn't be a problem, and it will encourage even more cooperation with the West.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun