CERN, published from Geneva a design of a larger circular accelerator to be the successor to the current Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
The proposed accelerator – with the temporary name Future Circular Collider (FCC) – will be nearly four times longer (100 kilometers) than the LHC and will be nearly ten times stronger, reaching up to 100 TeV to be in position to look for new subatomic particles. Its cost is estimated at around EUR 24 billion, which is not very insignificant, although it is thought to be slowly paid by many countries over several years (maybe more than 20).
There is no lack of critics who argue that it may be wasting the construction of a new stronger accelerator when the money could be spent on something more directly useful, such as the fight against climate change or new biomedical discoveries.
But CERN’s director, Italian physicist Fabiola Gianotti, insisted that the FCC “will have a terrifying potential to improve our knowledge of fundamental physics and to promote many technologies with a wide impact on society.”
The CERN project – a voluminous four-volume text that took five years to prepare – will be examined by an international physics committee, along with the alternative proposal to create a Linear Accelerator (CLIC), as part of the new European Particle Physics Strategy , to be presented in 2020.
According to the proposal, a circular tunnel with a length of 100 km will initially be created, with electron positron positives (positively charged electrons) inside. The cost for this first phase is expected to reach 9 billion euros, while the accelerator will start operating around 2040 and will last for 15 to 20 years.
Then, in the same tunnel, a stronger accelerator will be built where proton and heavy ion collisions will be carried out at ten times the current. The cost is estimated at EUR 15 billion and its start-up towards the end of the 2050s.
The hope of scientists is that thanks to the FCC will open the way for discoveries of a new physics beyond the Standard Model. This theoretical framework, containing 17 particles, explains the behavior of matter and forces, but in the universe there are more things to explain, such as dark matter and dark energy. Many physicists believe that other basic particles remain to be discovered, while a great concern is also the “marriage” of gravity (general relativity) with quantum mechanics.
To date, the CERN accelerator has failed to find particles beyond the Standard Model, but no one can guarantee that this will be achieved by the future FCC (if it is actually built).