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Physicists Plan to Build a Bigger LHC 263

ananyo writes "When Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) started up in 2008, particle physicists would not have dreamt of asking for something bigger until they got their US$5-billion machine to work. But with the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson, the LHC has fulfilled its original promise — and physicists are beginning to get excited about designing a machine that might one day succeed it: the Very Large Hadron Collider. The giant machine would dwarf all of its predecessors (see 'Lord of the rings'). It would collide protons at energies around 100 TeV, compared with the planned 14TeV of the LHC at CERN, Europe's particle-physics lab near Geneva in Switzerland. And it would require a tunnel 80-100 kilometres around, compared with the LHC's 27-km circumference. For the past decade or so, there has been little research money available worldwide to develop the concept. But this summer, at the Snowmass meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota — where hundreds of particle physicists assembled to dream up machines for their field's long-term future — the VLHC concept stood out as a favorite."
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Physicists Plan to Build a Bigger LHC

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  • Call it... (Score:5, Funny)

    by cptnapalm ( 120276 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:17AM (#45412705)

    the BFHC?

    • The name doesn't matter, it's all about bigger bang for the buck. ;-)
      • How about the THC? (titanic hadron collider)
        • But if all the scientists and engineers are going to work on THC, will they get anything done?
        • Re: Call it... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by O('_')O_Bush ( 1162487 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:36PM (#45413597)

          Big ass distractin from fusion research

          I mean, the LHC was a neat project, but what practical benefits to humanity have come from it? Knowledge is great, but the Higg's discovery isn't solving the problems the world faces.

          I know money and research into our energy needs could come from lots of places, but when I see massive facility of extreme high tech, employing thousands of physicists and researchers with international funding and support, and Billions of dollars budget, I can't help but think a similar problem with much greater utility is being neglected to all of our detriment.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            It's possible to do both. Besides, if your plan is "fusion at all costs", don't forget that the science involved (like computational techniques, materials science, etc...) are often cross-pollinated between the different fields.

            ITER is being built in France as we speak. Construction on this hypothetical vlhc would start in the 2030s, if it happens at all.

        • Yes let's name it Titanic so that when they fire this largest one up it does create a black hole on earth.

          Anyone have Dr Who's contact number?
      • The name doesn't matter, it's all about bigger bang for the buck. ;-)

        No it's not. It's about spending a lot more bucks to get a bigger bang.

        And the fact that the idea "stood out as a favorite" at a meeting of particle physicists is not particularly relevant. The money has to come from somewhere, and that "somewhere" is probably going to be at the expense of many other science and engineering projects.

        Sure, on one level it's interesting. The probable discovery of the Higgs Boson was interesting. But if (as implied by the summary) that's really the main reason the LHC was need

    • I prefer "HHC" - Humongous Hardon Collider.

    • At what percentage of C would a 100TeV proton be traveling?

    • How about the Superconducting Supercollider.. [pause]...[begins crying]
    • Or binary hadron collider?
      Is it possible to have two circles of say same circumference each and then redirect the electron/protons to a junction between them where it can collide? With such a contraption, we can keep on revolving the protons until it reaches the required speed.
      Obviously this would have been amongst the first ideas to be checked and rejected, but what are the negatives in this idea?

      • A "collider" already implies that there are two beams traveling in opposite directions, as opposed to an "accelerator" which impacts a fixed target. There's no reason to build two separate rings when you can operate both beams within the same ring.
  • Dallas? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by alexander_686 ( 957440 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:23AM (#45412765)

    hmmm....I wonder where they could build it. Oh - I know. Dallas. The tunnel has been dug so all they have to do is drop in a few magnates. []

    On a more serious note, I though the next big project was going to be a linear accelerator. Anybody know why they picked the round one over the straight one?

    • hmmm....I wonder where they could build it. Oh - I know. Dallas. The tunnel has been dug so all they have to do is drop in a few magnates. []

      On a more serious note, I though the next big project was going to be a linear accelerator. Anybody know why they picked the round one over the straight one?

      Slap on a little crowd sourcing and *POOF* all done.

    • Re:Dallas? (Score:5, Funny)

      by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:33AM (#45412859) Homepage Journal

      hmmm....I wonder where they could build it. Oh - I know. Dallas. The tunnel has been dug so all they have to do is drop in a few magnates.

      I'm all for putting Donald Trump underground, but shouldn't we cover the hole with dirt afterwards?

      • I don't know about dirt it seems to easy for zombies and action heros. Beter use cement.

      • by c ( 8461 )

        hmmm....I wonder where they could build it. Oh - I know. Dallas. The tunnel has been dug so all they have to do is drop in a few magnates.

        I'm all for putting Donald Trump underground, but shouldn't we cover the hole with dirt afterwards?

        Assuming you can tell the difference between Donald Trump and cheap backfill, once you cram him, his toupee, and his ego into that hole then it's pretty much ready to be paved over.

      • Re:Dallas? (Score:5, Funny)

        by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:24PM (#45414185)

        No need to fill in the hole; just comb over it.

    • On a more serious note, I though the next big project was going to be a linear accelerator. Anybody know why they picked the round one over the straight one?

      Isn't that simply because in a circular one you can accelerate the particles continuously through several rotations?

      • Re:Dallas? (Score:5, Informative)

        by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:48AM (#45413059)

        This is true, but no so simple: in a straight line, you gain energy with the distance. When going round, you lose energy to stay in the loop as a function of the radius (the infinite radius case brings you back to the straight line). Thus, each time you want more energy, your collider ring needs to have considerably larger radius (following a third power law). At some point (basically the point after this proposal) you have to loop around the solar system :)

    • Re:Dallas? (Score:5, Funny)

      by EvilSS ( 557649 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:34AM (#45412873)

      hmmm....I wonder where they could build it. Oh - I know. Dallas. The tunnel has been dug so all they have to do is drop in a few magnates

      Not sure how dropping a few billionaires into a hole in Texas would help get this project built but I'm not opposed to trying it.

    • Dump a bunch of supposed important people [] into an underground tunnel? Sounds good!

      Also, in round accelerators they can achieve much higher energies, iirc, since the particles can travel around the ring many times... while in a linear accelerator its maximum energy is dictated by the length of a single run.
    • The tunnels done for the SCSC are probably no longer fit for purpose, as they've been flooded ever since they were abandoned, which weakens and damages the structure considerably :(

    • Re:Dallas? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:51AM (#45413087)

      There's a tradeoff in circular/linear accelerators. Linear accelerators let you collide leptons (usually electrons) efficiently and leptons provide a MUCH cleaner signal. A comparable energy circular accelerator can be shorter, but due to bremsstrahlung losses, you have to collide hadrons (like protons), which provides a much messier signal.

      After you do some rough calculations of what particles you can collide, their energies and the number of interactions per second, you then take those numbers and plug them into a model of a hypothetical detector along with a number of theories you'd like to explore to see which configuration gives you the biggest "bang for your buck"

      The issue is that different people are more interested in probing different kinds of physics and it's impossible to make a detector/accelerator that's sensitive enough to fully probe everything, so big arguments happen at places like Snowmass. We know that we basically can only ask for one multi-billion dollar accelerator, so everyone's fighting to keep their pet research alive.

      • Re:Dallas? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Attila the Bun ( 952109 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:50PM (#45413777)

        There are also ideas to build a circular muon collider. Muons are similar to electrons so give a nice clean signal in the detectors, but being 200 times heavier than electrons they lose much less energy as they circulate around a ring-shaped path.

        The problem is muons are unstable, with a half-life of just 2 micro-seconds. But if you can collect them fast enough and accelerate them to near-light-speed, their lifetime increases due to time dilation. The nearer they get to light-speed the longer they last for, and it's thought that it would be feasible to get them going fast enough that they would last for a useful amount of time.

        There are lots of advantages to circular accelerators: You can re-use the expensive accelerating sections thousands of times over by recirculating the beam; the beam itself is re-used over and over (only a tiny fraction of the particle are lost on each collision); and most importantly you can install more than one detector. Having two independent measurements is very important in establishing the reliability of any results.

        • Re:Dallas? (Score:5, Informative)

          by joe_frisch ( 1366229 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @01:40PM (#45414421)

          Muon colliders are a great concept - but they are difficult REALLY difficult. There is a significant ongoing effort to work on the technologies but they are far from ready now.

          Personally I love the idea of high gradient RF cavities fabricated from Beryllium, filled with high pressure hydrogen, with megawatt high energy muon beams. There are however some possible....failure modes. Then there are the problems with neutrino radiation (I'm not kidding - it can exceed allowable dose limits).

          A potentially more serious issue is that while the muon collisions themselves are very clean, the decaying muons create a huge amount of background noise in the detectors.

          I think its a great project and work should continue - but like laser acceleration we can't build a machine like this yet.

    • Yeah, now all they need is a shit-ton of tax dollars out of a government already $18 trillion in debt (and growing by $1 trillion a year). No problemo!! Fuck it, let's build a bunch of new Aircraft Carriers and jets while we're at it!! The party will never end, right?

      • Basic research is the sea out of which major new technologies grow. Perhaps you think the West should just cede its technological dominance because it costs money to get there, but some of us see that as a form of cultural suicide.

        The US is at absolutely no fucking risk of going broke. The sheer value of its human, industrial and natural resources make that just about impossible.

        • Perhaps you think the West should just cede its technological dominance

          Putting aside the fact that I don't see any other cultures in the world lining up to spend tens of billions on a new super-super-collider, you know what's going to be even worse than the West ceding its "technological dominance"? All the dollars in my bank account turning to dust when the U.S. government goes bankrupt, because we couldn't LIVE WITHIN OUR MEANS!!

          • Actually, you don't see ANY "cultures" lining up to spend tens of billions building this, since it's only in the planning stage. When it does come time to build it there will be plenty lining up to pay for it, or have you forgotten that the US only paid for about 5% of the LHC?

            Anyway, keep up the fear mongering, it's always enjoyable to read!

    • With what Texas is doing to textbooks for schools, they don't deserve it.

      Also, in the states, there is this trend to not fund science that does not produce an immediately marketable product.

      • With what Texas is doing to textbooks for schools, they don't deserve it.

        Also, in the states, there is this trend to not fund science that does not produce an immediately marketable product.

        Don't pingeonhole everything in Texas. They have decent universities and a strong tech industry. Blame it on the parochial minds voting in the red districts for demanding Creationism and shit to be put in the text books. You simply do not put Dallas, Austin or Houston in the same category as some backwater county the voting majority thinks evolution is the work of the devil.

        Pragmatism please. If it makes financial and scientific sense to build in in Texas, let it be. We have enough knee-jerking appeals to

  • Peanuts (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:27AM (#45412801) Homepage

    A cost of $10 billion is peanuts compared to the $3.2-4 trillion cost of the Iraq war [] or the $12.8 trillion cost of the bank bailout. []. Even if these figures are not very accurate, VLHC is, comparatively, not expensive.

    The trouble is that VLHC does not enrich the friends of the politicans and so will not be looked on favourably. When will mankind grow up?

    • Re:Peanuts (Score:4, Insightful)

      by EvilSS ( 557649 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:37AM (#45412903)

      The trouble is that VLHC does not enrich the friends of the politicans and so will not be looked on favourably.

      Oh, yea of little faith. I'm fairly certain anything that involves land acquisition and construction contracts will benefit SOME politician somewhere.

    • You should stick with the actual numbers for the bailout if you want to make a point. The imputed values distract from it.
      And, the intents of these 3 expenditures is wildly different, making dollar value hard to compare.

    • The trouble is that VLHC does not enrich the friends of the politicans and so will not be looked on favourably.

      Maybe we should encourage Halliburton to get into the supercollider construction business?

    • Yes, because we wasted a shitload of money on some other shit we can't afford makes it okay to waste a significantly smaller shitload of money on *this* shit we can't afford. "Yes honey, I know I put this Porsche on the credit card....But it's a lot cheaper than the Lamborghini I put on the credit card last month!"

    • by Rinikusu ( 28164 )

      I don't see why they can't though. You still need specialized construction crews for drilling, excavating, and building the various chambers, etc, all things that people like Halliburton love to do. You still need miles and miles of copper and fiber for power and data, all things that billionaire owned communications companies would love to provide. You still need lots of sensors to be engineered and built, and then installed by contractors who make a fraction of their billable rate. I mean, I know what

    • Can we stop comparing everything to the price of such and such war. No country in the world will decide not to go to war so they could get a better bargain for their money by spending it on such and such project. The price to the U.S for WW2 was $288 trillion, imagine the accelerator we could have build with that.
  • I am sure that they like it but the question really is where to find the money. A 80-100 km tunnel surely cannot be cheap. Various sources on the internet indicate a cost of 0.04 to 4 billion dollars per kilometer. And that is for the tunnel alone... Maybe someone from the field could enlighten us?
    • Well, the numbers are all there in the summary

      Cost of LHC is $5B
      This one would be 3-4x as large.
      So I would assume $15B-20B.

  • Are they just going to keep multiplying the size of the thing by a factor of 'X' every 'Y' years? ;-)
    • Yes. Within 10Y's, (assuming X is 2), we will need a tunnel around the equator of the earth. Within 34Y, we will need one around our solar system. Within 56Y, we will need the whole galaxy.

  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:37AM (#45412901) Journal
    Make no mistake, I don't mean my subject as anti-science - From my point of view, I'd gladly give one of these to every university in the world before I'd pay for one more bullet fired from one more drone to kill one more Arab in a desert far away.

    But in planning for a future desired collision energy, they really should have some actual goal in mind to justify that design. Do they hope to find dark matter? Black holes? Do they actually think they can make the Higgs break down into something else at that energy? So... Why?
    • by smaddox ( 928261 )

      I am not a particle physicist, but there are plenty of posited models that differ from the standard model at high energies. My understanding is that the higher energy we get, the closer we get to gravitational effects being important. Even before then, we might see something new.

      Personally, I do think this level of research is starting to reach the edge of cost effective, but split between many countries the cost isn't that bad.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bite The Pillow ( 3087109 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:05PM (#45413263)

      We don't yet know. Isn't that terribly exciting? That is basic research at its finest.

      • You still have to prioritize investments somehow.
      • It's interesting, but no, it's not particularly exciting. Pie-in-the-sky speculation isn't basic research, research (even basic research) is intended to investigate specific things - which is especially important in this multi-billion-dollar case because if you don't know what you want to look for, you can't even design the detectors to look for it.

        That being said, the grandparent is as off-base as you are. Pie-in-the-sky is quite acceptable at this very early pre-preliminary stage. It gets the t

      • In that case, I'd like 100 luxury, sports, and super cars. Why? We don't know yet, but it's for science! Maybe I'll crash some to see what happens, maybe I'll put some instruments on board to get readings. It truly is basic research, and at a far lower cost than the billions that a successor to the LHC will cost.

        Point being, you need some justification for spending that sort of money, even if it's just a theory of some sort that you'd like to test. You can't just say "for science!" and expect governments to

    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      I have the same question. I am all for science and if asked I would be all for it.

      But an important question should be answered if possible. What did we gain from discovering the higgs boson? I am sure there are thousands of really cool application that specialist can think of. I think if some could be highlighted (even if 50 years of engineering down the road), people would be much more receptive to it.

    • There is a lot of discussion about this and the proposed machines are aimed at our best guesses of where there is new physics (for example super-symmetry).

  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:37AM (#45412905)

    You pesky physicists just keep running around in circles asking for more, MORE MORE money.. Is all this really necessary or are we really just funding a pile of PHD student's research?

    So, why don't we just cut to the chase here and go with the biggest possible? I'm starting to get tired of this "We need a bigger one now!" thing.

    Seriously, So now that they've managed to find the Higgs boson we are done with the LHC? I'm looking for a really good reason we need a bigger collider here and I'm not seeing any given. Is there some theory we need to test or some additional advances in technology which depend on a better understanding of subatomic physics at such large energies? I'm no physicist, but I'm not seeing a reason for this expense, other than having a new, bigger and more expensive shiny toy.

    Help us out, what will 100 TeV get you that your 14 TeV won't?

    • by ivano ( 584883 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:50AM (#45413077)
      They have their reasons if you actually read about it. Anyway it takes roughly 20 years to plan, get funding, and build the thing. That's why they're starting now. It's called "what happens if you only have one chance to build something that as yet the technology hasn't been developed yet". For instance the LHC was designed before they knew if they could find magnets to be able to "bend the beams". Also check out [].
    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
      The biggest one possible would be 40,000 km in circumference (give or take a few kms) and would probably have numerous design issues, what with pesky plate tectonics and relativity and such getting in the way.

      That's until it's built and then we decide to use Saturn's ring as a basis for the next one, obviously.
  • Reading the design study by Peter Limon (, I couldn't help but notice that it made rather liberal use of Comic Sans.

    I'll probably burn some of my karma to say this, but I must say it: Nothing screams professionalism like Comic Sans.

  • by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @11:54AM (#45413119) Journal

    They should kickstarter the money for it. I'll throw in $50. Flex goals: Stargate; flux capacitor; warp drive.

    • by jfengel ( 409917 )

      Crowdfunding a $5 billion project, fifty bucks at a time, would require a third of the United States, or 3% of the entire planet.

  • This is like the quest for horsepower. One guy gets a supercharger, the other gets twin turbos. One guy sees a car producing 1150 HP while his only produces 1100. Next thing you know he's ripping out parts just to get that little bit more. I think the scientists on the LHC are over-compensating, maybe we should just send them packages of Enzyte instead?

  • Could that be possible? To build a particle collider in the orbit (or at a Lagrange point). Focusing of the beam wouldn't be easy, but it would be certainly doable. I'm thinking a straight collider or a giant laser like setup. I wonder how protected the system should be of outside interference?

    The cosmic rays themselves probably randomly collide too with each other and create exotic byproducts. I wonder what's the actual chance of a natural head-on collision...

    • Ignoring the physics aspect of it... since I'm not qualified to even "guess" if there would be issues

      I imagine the major issues would be:
      - Price of construction
      - Price of delivering construction pieces: it's like thousands and thousands of dollars to send up 1lb of stuff into orbit
      - Space junk and asteroids - something the size of an eye-glass screw could pretty much ruin the whole thing. And there's a lot of crud in orbit
      - You'd need people to maintain it, run it, etc. That's a large expense right there

  • How are we ever going to get the amount of helium required to fill such a large tunnel? The LHC is already using a large amount of all the helium we have on this planet. It is going to become awfully expensive at least to get that much helium together, if we can manage it at all.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The helium at LHC is liquid helium used to cool the superconducting magnets, not to fill the tunnel.

      But maybe by the time this is built we'll have room-temperature (or nearly so) superconductors that can sustain that kind of magnetic field. (AFAIK the LN2-cooled ceramic superconductors can't.)

  • "So we'll just have to try again." -Mad Scientists
  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Wednesday November 13, 2013 @12:51PM (#45413787) Homepage
    They need to get a naming convention started.

    If the present one is the Large Hadron Collider, the next one the Very Large Hadron Collider, then the following one should be the Ultra Large Hadron Collider.

    1. Large Hadron Collider
    2. Very Large Hadron Collider
    3. Ultra Large Hadron Collider
    4. Extremely Large Hadron Collider
    5. Gargantuan Large Hadron Collider
    6. Mammoth Large Hadron Collider
    7. Unbelievably Large Hadron Collider
    8. Inconceivably Large Hadron Collider
    9. Budget Busting Large Hadron Collider

    After this, there won't be money left to build any more.

    Each new larger collider should be constructed with it's center at the same center point as previous colliders. Thus all of the colliders form a set of concentric rings. They can be called the Nine Circles of Collision.
  • When the LHC was first built I was impressed by the multi billion $USD cost. Now we spend that much just bailing out a bank so they can pay bonuses to their never-indicted criminal executives.

    It's funny how we can't afford to repair our bridges and schools, but when it comes to bailouts and worthless wars, cost is no consideration.

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      That just goes to show you how much value paper money has lost in those years. When the music stops, be sure not to be one of the ones not sitting in a chair!
  • These physicists are going to have to wash a lot of dishes to get that puppy in their xmas stocking.

  • Do we have some untested models or hypothesis that demand 100 TeV to verify? Otherwise, what are we building it for?

    Back in my sciencey days, I was always taught that one had to have a question to be answered in mind before going off and designing cool experiments.

Air is water with holes in it.