The scientific world is preparing for the arrival of a even larger Large Hadron Collider, after the publication of blueprints for a next generation proton-punisher. A five volume report containing the plans for the International Linear Collider has been handed over to the International Committee for Future Accelerators (ICFA) for approval. The Technical Design Report contains costings for the project, along with the design of the new collider.
The new machine is significantly more powerful than the hoary European Large Hadron Collider and is likely to be sited in Japan, because the Pacific island nation has reportedly offered to pay for half of the construction costs. This means that Europeans will have a few more minutes to contemplate their lot should the beefed-up collider tear a hole in the space-time continuum. “We thank the ILC team for this report and look forward to witnessing the next step of the project,” said ICFA Chair Pier Oddone. “The report is a testament to the global effort and cooperation that went into successfully designing a machine of this sophistication and scale.” The plans were launched during a complex international ceremony today, with the first taking place in Japan and then moving on to CERN in Geneva and ending at Fermilab in Chicago. Scientists in each time zone will give each other a virtual handshake by video conference when the ceremony is over.
Jonathan Bagger, chair of the International Linear Collider Steering Committee, said the particle collider was “ready to go”. “The publication of the Technical Design Report represents a major accomplishment,” he continued. “A huge amount of work has gone into it. The TDR makes a convincing case: thanks to all the hard work, we now have a machine that we know we can build.” Researchers have been buoyed up by the discovery of the Higgs Boson, the so-called God Particle, at the Large Hadron Collider. The ILC will be able to study this elusive particle in greater detail and boasts extra-sensitive instruments to measure the collisions between electrons and positrons, which are crashed into one another at high speeds in the hope of producing a Higgs Boson.
All that’s left to do now is pitch the design to governments. Oh, and build it. “The Technical Design Report basically says that we are ready to go ahead,” said Barry Barish, Director of the ILC’s Global Design Effort team, which is the name for the international group of scientists working on the project. “The technology is there, the research and development milestones have been achieved, the physics case is clear, and we could start construction tomorrow. All we need is a clear political statement, and there are strong signs from Japan that it could bid to host the project.”
The ILC is the result of a collaboration between more than 1,000 scientists and engineers from around the world, working at more than 100 universities in 24 countries. The ILC consists of two linear accelerators facing each other. Electrons and positrons, their anti-particles, are then smashed together at super fast speeds. These then smash apart in the collision, hopefully allowing boffins to glimpse the mysterious Higgs Boson. When the ILC is running at full pelt, there will be about 7,000 collisions a second, producing massive numbers of particles. Boffins hope that as well as the God Particle, it may allow them to understand dark matter.