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Next-generation particle collider planned

Feb. 8, 2007
Courtesy Int'l Committee for Future Accelerators
and World Science staff

An in­ter­na­tion­al con­sor­ti­um of phys­i­cists to­day an­nounced plans for a pro­posed par­t­i­cle ac­cel­er­a­tor that would ex­am­ine the cos­mos as it was mere tril­lionth of a sec­ond af­ter its birth.

Artist­s's ren­der­ing of the planned col­lider de­tec­tor for the in­ter­na­tion­al lin­ear col­lider. (Cour­te­sy KEK)


Meet­ing in Bei­jing, the sci­en­tists said the pro­posed In­ter­na­tion­al Lin­ear Col­lider would com­ple­ment a ma­chine known as the Large Had­ron Col­lider, sched­uled to start op­er­at­ing in Ge­ne­va this year.

The new In­ter­na­tion­al Lin­ear Col­lider would hurl some 10 bil­lion sub­a­tom­ic par­t­i­cles known as el­ec­t­rons and their so-called anti-par­t­i­cles, po­si­t­rons, to­geth­er at near­ly light speed.

The spec­tac­u­lar re­sult­ing col­li­sions will cre­ate an ar­ray of new par­t­i­cles that would an­swer some of the most fun­da­men­tal ques­tions about the na­ture of the uni­verse, such as the or­i­gin of mass, ex­tra di­men­sions and be­yond, re­search­ers said.

It could al­so help re­veal the na­ture, they predicted, of two of the most mys­te­ri­ous com­po­nents of the uni­verse: “dark mat­ter” and “dark en­er­gy.” The two sub­stances are be­lieved to play a dom­i­nat­ing role in the uni­verse based on in­di­rect ev­i­dence, but have nev­er been seen.

The col­lid­er’s lo­ca­tion re­mains to be de­cid­ed. The cur­rent 31-kilometre de­sign al­lows for an up­grade to a 50-kilometre ma­chine, sci­en­tists said. Or­gan­ised by a team of more than 60 sci­en­tists, the col­lider is an in­ter­na­tion­al en­deav­our that brings to­geth­er more than 1000 sci­en­tists and en­gi­neers from more than 100 uni­ver­si­ties and lab­o­ra­to­ries in over two doz­en coun­tries. 

The ef­fort could con­ceiv­a­bly help find a way to re­u­nite laws of na­ture by disco­vering new forc­es, the re­search­ers said. The de­sign re­leased to­day is the first de­tailed tech­ni­cal snap­shot of the next-generation ma­chine, pro­vid­ing guid­ance for a world­wide re­search and de­vel­op­ment needed to make the proj­ect a real­i­ty.

The an­nounce­ment came from the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee for Fu­ture Ac­cel­er­a­tors, an in­ter­na­tion­al group founded to dis­cuss and pro­motes par­t­i­cle phys­ics, in par­tic­u­lar the large ac­cel­er­a­tors that are at the heart of the field.


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An inter national consortium of physicists today announced plans for a proposed particle accelerator that would examine conditions in the cosmos less than a trillionth of a second after its birth. Meeting in Beijing, the scientists said the proposed Inter national Linear Collider would complement a machine known as the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, scheduled to start operating this year. The Inter national Linear Collider would hurl some 10 billion subatomic particles known as electrons and their so-called anti-particles, positrons, together at nearly the speed of light. The spectacular resulting collisions will create an array of new particles that will answer some of the most fundamental questions about the nature of the universe, such as the origin of mass, extra dimensions and beyond, researchers said. It could also help reveal the nature, they said, of two of the most mysterious components of the universe: “dark matter,” and “dark energy.” The two substances are believed to play a dominating role in the universe based on indirect evidence, but have never been seen. The collider’s location remains to be decided. The current 31-kilometre design allows for an upgrade to a 50-kilometre machine, scientists said. Organised by a team of more than 60 scientists, the collider is an inter national endeavour that brings together more than 1000 scientists and engineers from more than 100 universities and laboratories in over two dozen countries. Together with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), scheduled to start operating in 2007, scientists believe that the ILC will answer some of science’s greatest remaining questions about the nature of the universe. The effort could conceivably help find a way to reunite laws of nature by discovering new forces, the researchers said. The design released today is the first detailed technical snapshot of the next-generation machine, providing guidance for the worldwide research and development neeede to make the project a reality.