CERN Might Build a 60-Mile-Long Particle Accelerator


The proposed atom smasher would completely encircle Geneva.

The European Organization for Nuclear Research, better known by the name CERN, wants to build a new particle accelerator that would effectively dwarf the Large Hadron Collider.

The new accelerator, when complete, would measure 60 miles in diameter, and it would encircle all of Geneva, Switzerland. In comparison, CERN’s LHC measures 17 miles in diameter. The 60-mile diameter, according to the BBC, would “reach to the Alps in the east, the Jura mountains in the west and even go under Lake Geneva.”

CERN Large Hadron Collider Atlas

CERN’s LHC is a new facility, as it’s only been collecting data since 2009. But planning for the collider goes all the way back to 1983 — a 26-year gap — so a new, larger collider would need considerable lead-in time before becoming fully operational.

Planning and development for the new CERN collider will take years, with a goal of having the facility operation before the LHC goes dark in 2035. A five-year study has just been started, which will be followed by another five-year period used to settle on a design, secure a specific site, and of course find the cash for such an endeavor. That would leave about ten years for construction.

A dollar figure isn’t even being considered at the moment, but it’s sure to be astronomical. “Any number you mention will be wrong, and worse it will be remembered forever,” said CERN General Director Dr. Rolf Heuer.

Five years is a long time to wait for news on the new proposed collider, much less 20 years for the facility to come online, but at least we have the LHC to admire in the meantime.

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