The Large Hadron Collider certainly lives up to its name: the underground behemoth is nearly 17 miles in circumference. Oh, and it also helped scientists discover the Higgs Boson. But those pesky scientists always want more, which is why CERN wants to build it a big brother that's over three times the LHC's circumference.
CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, embarked this week on a study to explore the possibility of building a new circular collider 50 to 62 miles in circumference. The Future Circular Collider programme goal is to create a collider that creates particles with 100 TeV of energy. By comparison, when the LHC's revamp is completed next year it will max out at 14 TeV, meaning big brother will dwarf the LHC in both footprint and power.
So what's the point of such a jumbo-size collider, besides scientific one-upsmanship? While the LHC gave us strong evidence for the Higgs Boson's existence, the results still leave a lot of questions unanswered. And the added horsepower of the proposed collider would open up new possibilities for researchers to investigate such sci-fi concepts as dark matter.
When can we expect all this physics madness to kick off? Not for a while, actually. CERN started the press release for the study by saying "particle physics takes the long-term view," and noting that the LHC project took 25 years to go from concept to functional tool. And between the upgrades to LHC and simultaneous studies at the Compact Linear Collider, physicists have plenty of collider capability as it is.
But the sheer concept of a 62-mile-long underground collider loop sure sounds awesome enough to keep pursuing. [CERN]