back to article CERN puts two new atom-smashers on its shopping list. One to make Higgs Bosons, then a next-gen model six times more energetic than the LHC

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has signed off on an update to its particle physics strategy that calls for the construction of two new very, very, large pieces of atom-smashing hardware. Endorsed by the CERN Council last Friday, the strategy update [PDF] suggests that the Large Hadron Collider will “ …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ridiculous

    "But CERN wants more hardware to probe largely-unexplored issues such as the nature of dark matter and the preponderance of matter over antimatter."

    It's 50-50, why do you think it would be anything else?

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Ridiculous

      It's 50-50, why do you think it would be anything else?

      If it were 50:50 there would have been nothing left after the big bang. There had to have been some imbalance so that our matter-based universe could form. The questions they want to answer are "how much" and "why".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ridiculous

        So lets now suppose that matter and antimatter are 50-50 mix in the universe. The thing you want to discard as impossible. Yet the only likely reality.

        How would you end up with a matter universe or an anti-matter universe? And if there needs to be 50-50 balance, where is all the anti-matter?

        My question doesn't need EUR 21B to answer, its a very simple question.

        If you made an anti-particle in a matter universe, it has a high probability of cancelling out with a matter particles of that universe. If you make a matter particle in a matter universe it has no anti-particle to cancel out with and so does not cancel.

        If you only had 1 more matter particle than anti-particle in the universe, then the probability balance would still exist. The anti-particle would have a slightly higher chance of cancelling and being destroyed, than not cancelling and surviving.

        Each new matter particle made, skews the probability further. Now there are 2 more particles than anti-particles, and an even higher probability of forming matter.

        As more particles are made, matter or anti-matter condenses ever more rapidly from the soup. The higher the probability difference, the faster it condenses.

        Add enough time and you have a matter or anti-matter universe.

        So now where is all the anti-matter in the universe? I said there was 50-50 matter and anti-matter so where is the 50% antimatter?

        Well if neutral particles must be made of charged particles, (because everything must cancel out), then if you stuck a neutral particle and its mirrored anti-particle next to a monopole, -ve or +ve, it would shifted by the mirrored amount.

        So for example, lets call a neutral particle F2 and its anti-particle F2'.

        If I stuck that around a -ve monopole, it would form a sandwich, F2 -ve F2' and the corresponding particle would have an orientation and an axis, this is an electron. The -ve monopole is what stops the F2 particle collapsing into the F2' anti-particle. Without it, they collapse together. This is why the electron has spin, motion, direction.... They have that because they have structure.

        Anti-matter is everywhere. If you liberate it from matter, it has a high probability of cancelling without the structure holding it separate from matter.

        It just appears to be rare, but its not. You make it, it has a slim to none chance of surviving long enough for you to measure it. So you think its rare.

        (EBG below "If there was a 50-50 split, you would be seeing flashes of matter anti-matter annihilation all the time." no because the matter isn't being made and cancelled, once its in a structure its stable.)

        1. tfb Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Ridiculous

          This is not even wrong. But if, as you claim, electrons are made up of pairs of matter and antimatter particles (and a 'monopole' not sure what that is), then, well, you could collide electrons with things and you'd see structure. We do that, a lot, and ... we don't see structure: electrons appear to be pointlike. For some other particles – hadrons, like protons for instance – we do see structure. Not to mention your 'theory' would completely fail to explain the existence of anti-electrons. And anything else, of course: turns out the particle physicists have done both their homework and their experiments.

          1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

            Re: Ridiculous

            'monopole' not sure what that is

            I suspect the commentard is referring to a magnetic monopole - a hypothetical particle with just a north or south pole.

            1. tfb Silver badge

              Re: Ridiculous

              Yes I thought that, but if that was true electrons would be magnetic monopoles & they're not. I think they were probably just assembling words they'd heard into something that sounds superficially sciency.

        2. HildyJ Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Ridiculous

          No. Just no.

          You are referring to a period of time much later than the time being explored by CERN.

          In the early Big Bang energies are too high for atoms to form, only elementary particles exist (and decay into other elementary particles).

        3. Rol Silver badge

          Re: Ridiculous

          We have been here so many times, and I'm sure some of the longer serving critics are probably fed up of hearing my thoughts on the subject, but for the benefit of those who have more recently washed up on El Reg's exotic shores, I offer you this little snippet.

          Experiments have tentatively shown that antimatter has anti-gravity - it runs away from matter. The Big Bang could be equally called the great escape, from the perspective of antimatter, as it hurtled hell for leather away from its evil twin.

          The physics that brought particles together to form matter, hold no sway over antimatter, so it exists today, in the exact same fundamental state that it was born in, and hence very very small, and very widely dispersed, and still hell tailing it away from all that nasty clingy stuff.

          So where is all the antimatter? It really is out of sight, on the edge of our universe and still running at the speed of light away from us, as it has no mass.

          Perhaps it is God's means of erasing past failures out of the way of this universe.

          or...well most of you have already heard my or, and I'll not make you suffer any more.

          1. Steve K Silver badge

            Re: Ridiculous

            Experiments have tentatively shown that antimatter has anti-gravity - it runs away from matter

            No they haven't.....

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Ridiculous

              Correct, they have not. We currently don't have enough antimatter to test such a thing, and even if we did, isolating it from other systems (passing bin lorries are enough to affect some detectors!) is going to be difficult to get a reading. Possibly possible, but it will take a long time.

              Antimatter is basically the opposite "spin" (it's called a spin, but it's not the direction the particle rotates in, it's like a "left/right" style designator). Other than that, all things seem identical. But IIRC there are some results that show antimatter may decay slightly differently than matter does.

          2. tfb Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Ridiculous

            Experiments have tentatively shown that antimatter has anti-gravity - it runs away from matter.

            They have not. Experiments are being done, but no one has been able to do experiments which give answers to any useful level of precision, or at least they have not published the results yet if they have (here is one fairly recent result).

            However it would be absolutely astonishing if antimatter repelled matter gravitationally for two reasons.

            Firstly if this were true then general relativity is a dead theory: not just wrong in some limit but completely and utterly wrong in every way. This is because GR describes gravitation in terms of curvature of spacetime: objects moving under gravity follow 'straight lines' – geodesics – in spacetime. Those geodesics are a property of spacetime, which means that antimatter sees the same geodesics that matter does, and moves in the same way, if GR is true. And there are now really a large number of experimental tests of GR, all of which it has passed, slightly depressingly: it would be completely astonishing if it was wrong in this trivial way.

            Secondly there are particles which are their own antiparticles, and those particles are deflected by gravity in the way GR predicts them to be: they follow geodesics as GR predicts they should. So that simply makes no sense at all if antimatter feels gravity differently than matter. Those particles, of course, are photons (and the particular geodesics they follow are null geodesics).

      2. MarkET

        50:50

        Quantum instability. Or social media.

      3. asdf

        Re: Ridiculous

        I thought they were fairly confident on the how much. The why from what I understand have some leads but yeah no smoking gun yet (for sure Nobel for solving that lol).

    2. EBG

      Nope. Definitely nope.

      If there was a 50-50 split, you would be seeing flashes of matter anti-matter annihilation all the time.

      The conditions that outline how the imbalance could have occurred are given by the Sakharov Conditions. The key being that the universe is known to be asymmetric (CP violation), given the experiments on the weak interaction back in the 60's.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nope. Definitely nope.

        Yeah, no idea what that "it's stil 50/50" post is blathering about. It's not 50/50 for the universal matter is (rounding error) 1% matter. Thus for some reason, less antimatter, or more matter was around. Currently, it seems anti matter/matter is produced 50/50.

        However current experiments suggest there may be a tiny amount of decay more for antimatter than there is for matter via some CP violation of antimatter, allowing the change (IIRC).

        The post on 50/50 matter/antimatter would end up with a universe with nothing in it, not one with a little more matter left over, as we have now.

    3. DS999

      OK I'm reluctant to go down this path

      But those who know more than I do, would it be possible via observation alone to tell if a distant galaxy was composed of anti-matter rather than matter? Would stars work slightly differently and have different spectral lines or something like that, or would there be no way to tell?

      The large scale structure of the universe is pretty clear, there are various "islands" of gravitationally bound galaxies in the form of clusters and superclusters. If there was some mechanism (i.e. VERY hypothetically since it would have to be some mechanism no one has yet theorized) by which some of those were formed of matter and others of anti-matter then there wouldn't be any annihilation since they'd each be composed entirely of the same type of matter. Nor would there be any mixing because superclusters are receding from each other quickly enough that no natural process would permit matter from one to reach another.

      I don't buy this idea, but I'm curious if there is something observationally that rules it out right away or if it is just because there's no conceivable mechanism of the universe's life cycle that could account for this sort of 'patchwork' approach of superclusters of matter and anti-matter.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: OK I'm reluctant to go down this path

        Because nothing is truly an island. Those antimatter galaxies would be on fire on their edges, and so would matter galaxies like our own. As interstellar gas, solar winds and things sent off from black holes (though those kind of energy jets from black holes are mainly photons and not matter) would set things ablaze pretty early in the universe, and we'd still be seeing the glow for billions of years!

        1. DS999

          Re: OK I'm reluctant to go down this path

          No they wouldn't. If our entire supercluster (Lanaiakea) is composed of matter where is the antimatter going to come from that will set its edges on fire? That was my point, we ARE an island, we're in a gravitionally bound supercluster and space is expanding quickly enough nothing from other superclusters can reach us. If some other supercluster that nothing from ours can reach was made of antimatter could we telling just by observation?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Facepalm

            Re: OK I'm reluctant to go down this path

            If they were spatially separated by lightspeed separation then we could not see them.

            If we can see them, then they are moving slower than the speed of light. Thus particles can reach us.

            If they are separated, are you suggesting *all* parts of matter and antimatter are also separated in the universe perfectly? How would they avoid colliding at some point in the past or future to light up the sky?

      2. EBG

        Re: OK I'm reluctant to go down this path

        As per ThechnicalBen below, space isn't a perfect vacuum so there'll be fireworks at the interfaces. Astromonically observable differences between matter and anti-matter - none. The effects are far too subtle. ( Uparrowed - perfectly reasonable questions as far as I can see )

    4. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Ridiculous

      I whole-heartedly agree that our science has no explanation for what it sees, or doesn't see, and until something a little more credible than invisible dark goo comes along, then the ratio of 50/50 stands as the most sensible conclusion to the composition of our Universe.

      The fact we can't detect anti-matter, and are eager to jump through some incredibly warped hoops of twisted logic to deny antimatter's existence, suggests we are blind in more ways than one.

      Several more plausible theories have been put forward, including on this site, but all of them lack the revenue generating potential that scientists are clamouring for, because any conjecture supporting the existence of antimatter requires investigation far beyond our Solar system, which, as you would expect, will get zero funding until faster than light travel is possible.

      So, to keep the wheels on the science wagon rolling, we squander vast budgets on what we can investigate, even though, in our hearts, we know they will reveal nothing worthwhile in our exploration of antimatter's perceived absence.

      Perhaps one day, I can go into Lidl and buy a telescope that allows me to study grains of sand on Pluto from the comfort of my home, and read the latest articles in el Reg about how scientists are mapping antimatter particles in a matrix like structure, that is more or less an inverse contour map of the universe's gravity.

      But until then, I will just bumble about my business, knowing damned well that physicists, after spending hundreds of billions of dollars and yen and pounds and euro's, still have to cross their fingers behind their back while telling me I'm wrong. Which, after spending all that money, I guess is a contractual obligation, to ensure the next generation gets to paddle knee deep in project funding.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        Re: Ridiculous

        Huh? No. The current mix of the universe is not 50/50. But any new production of matter seems to be produced 50/50. Currently existing matter is so much near 100% that antimatter is a tiny fraction of what is out there.

        We *can* detect antimatter. You seem to have misunderstood a lot. Go back and read it, check videos showing diagrams, and take it step by step before jumping off the cliff without checking where the bridges are. ;)

      2. tfb Silver badge
        Alien

        Re: Ridiculous

        I don't know why you think we can't detect antimatter: we can detect it extremely effectively. All you do is press it against some matter and you get a really dramatic amount of energy out. Indeed the wet dream of people who think about rockets is what's called an 'antimatter drive', where you collect a bunch of antimatter and a bunch of matter and use it to drive a rocket. These drives can potentially have specific impulses which are half the speed of light or something like that (the highest possible specific impulse is the speed of light).

        If there were significant amounts of antimatter out there we would see it because whenever it came into contact with matter, including the matter that is in the most empty parts of space, there would be really dramatic releases of energy. A universe with any significant quantity antimatter in it would be really bright.

        Unfortunately when we look up we see that the universe is not that bright. So we know there is almost no antimatter. And even then we can look for the signature of matter/antimatter annihilations even if they are very rare, and we don't see them. This means that there just isn't much there.

        And in fact, you probably are just confused: do you think antimatter is the same as dark matter? Because it's not. Dark matter, if it exists, really is hard to directly detect: if it wasn't we'd have detected it and it's whole point is that it is hard to directly detect or it, you know, wouldn't be dark. Antimatter, which does exist, is very, very easy to detect: we know this because we make the stuff and detect it.

        Of course, none of this will dissuade you from your idiot conspiracy theory. Yes, of course it's all being hushed up by, well, by who is it being hushed up by this week? The Masons? The society of golf-club owners? I lose track. Of course it is.

    5. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Ridiculous

      The whole point is, reasearch is advancing and we need bigger toys if we want it to keep advancing, that has always been the case. Every time we start planning bigger more expsensive toys, people climb out of their caves, claim to have all the answers, and ridicule the projects.

      LHC has proven the existence of the Higgs boson, to name but one of the many great discoveries, and we need to move on. Please get out of the way of our boffins doing their job - advancing our knowledge of nature.

  2. macjules Silver badge

    Old Moore's law?

    Every thousand years or so you need to double your henge. Same principle with LHC's I should think.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Eventually

      that would mean going into space but as the LHC uses a vacuum better than you'd find in interstellar space the engineering is going to be interesting.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Eventually

        My hoover's just packed up. Maybe if we can get the new collider funded they'll shut down the old one and I can put a bid in for their vacuum generator. Well, so long as I can get it up the stairs

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: Eventually

          You don't need to get it up the stairs. Just dig a tunnel from wherever you are to the Swiss/French border - and connect a long flexible pipe to that.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Eventually

            Hotels have already proved that system works, so would an LHC become the worlds vacuum cleaner? Will his Muskiness bore the tunnels all around the world as required? How much to connect up the pipes to my house? Will there be room for future upgrades? Will it support Internet Protocol Vacuum 6?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Eventually

              World-spanning networks of tunnels are part of the conspiracy theory about the world being run by Secret Masters (see Eco's Foucault's Pendulum for a non-bonkers summary).

              Why is Musk so obsessed with tunnels and electricity? What aren't "they" telling us? And who are "they" anyway? Remember when it happens, you read it here first.

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Coat

              would an LHC become the worlds vacuum cleaner?

              It's certainly a way to collect dark matter for research.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: so long as I can get it up the stairs

          They make powered stair climbing 2 wheel carts. Very necessary l if you have something heavy to take up or down stairs.

          They took our 300 lb geothermal unit down to the basement with one of these things. I'm glad the stairs could handle the weight along with the two installers.

          Of course it only helps with the weight. If the thing is 20 meters wide you have bigger problem.

      2. D@v3

        Re: Eventually

        I can't find it now, was several years ago when I saw it (around about the time the LHC was making big news). A clever little animation suggesting that as the colliders need more power and get larger, that the end result is building them in space, and then making them habitable, and then before you know it you have Halo.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Old Moore's law?

      I hadn't seen that bit about Durrington Walls and Stonehenge. Very interesting. A 1.2 mile wide circle of 30(?) Neolithic pits, each 5m deep and 10m wide. Wow.

      Great article in the Grauniad today https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jun/22/vast-neolithic-circle-of-deep-shafts-found-near-stonehenge

      Their explanations are totally wrong though.

      The pits are clearly just a circle of post-holes for very large posts, which were part of a very, very large roundhouse. Proof indeed that once Giants lived in these islands! (Not sure where they got trees 800m tall for the posts though...)

      1. macjules Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Old Moore's law?

        Being in the open air it was intended to provide "cloud" computing for StoneHenge. Once the superhenge was completed then Druids would be able to access data via their their tablets.*

        Unfortunately the contracting company Capita failed to complete and their CEO and staff were sacrificed at the next summer solstice.

        * RIP Sir Pterry

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Old Moore's law?

          You're an optimist.

          Not only would the CEO of Palaeocapita not be sacrificed (a few slaves would take her* place) but you could if you had access to enough DNA samples probably trace her lineage up to Baroness Hardthing of TalkTalk, A B de P Johnson and indeed most of the C-suites of large companies.

          *I suggest female only because mitochondrial DNA tracing would be more reliable than general DNA.**

          **I do know the flaw in the argument.

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Old Moore's law?

        (Not sure where they got trees 800m tall for the posts though...)

        From their equivalent of B&Q, where else?

        Also the shovels and such.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Old Moore's law?

      I thought Old Moores was some sort of French brandy or cognac like spirit that helps you read the future?

  3. druck Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Funding

    I think they are going to find it difficult raising the many billions needed for a new collider, after covid inspired global economic suicide attempt.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Funding

      The money that they are asking for is a small fraction of what we give the men in green uniforms.

      I know which one I regard as being of better value.

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Funding

        Also a small fraction of stimulus money for the pandemic. Also a small fraction of tax cuts for the rich.

        1. druck Silver badge

          Re: Funding

          I'm afraid the reality of the situation hasn't caught up with you yet.

    2. hammarbtyp

      Re: Funding

      I've heard arguments,some from those should know better, that the money would be better spent finding a cure for Covid-19 or global warming. However they conveniently forget that the technologies and research tools that are being touted to to solve these problems, only exist because of the non-specific basic research done years before.

      Progress has only been achieved by exploring the universe to the limits of our capabilities, and then applying the knowledge gain to make better computers, microscopes, batteries, materials etc.

      If we ever say, that's as far as we are willing to go, then in about 20 years time the limits of our knowledge will mean that our technological based society which has improved the lives of millions will just stagnate. To me the costs involved are minuscule compared to the possible long term benefits.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Funding

        Also, you could spend billions making the best ham sandwich. But there is limited return for investment there, so a £2.99p sandwich is good enough.

        As long as health research is still done, it's not necessarily true that spending billions more on it speeds up the natural time limits and size constraints on testing/experimentation/discovery. Where as the actual size of a detector determines what you can detect!

    3. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Funding

      Note also that that 21b is over something like 20 years, so a little more than 1b/year (extra, on top of their existing yearly budget).

  4. Korev Silver badge
    Alien

    "Do you have a friend or relative who would make a valuable addition to the Black Mesa team?"

    1. D@v3

      Black Mesa

      Are a bunch of hacks.

      Give me Aperture Science, or give me death. (or most likely both)

  5. Craig 2

    A whole new level of exotic...

    I thought my shopping list was exotic when I added avocado for the first time...

    1. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: A whole new level of exotic...

      Highly exotic considering avocados usually change into carrots by the time they reach the self-checkout detector... then back again by the time you get them home!

      Mine's the one with an assortment of neutrinos in the pockets...

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Boffin

    A hundred TeV here, a hundred TeV there...

    Soon you're talking *real* energies!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A hundred TeV here, a hundred TeV there...

      I remember an article in Scientific American point out that even if we get to 100TeV, there is then a gap of orders of magnitudes between that and the kinds of energy sloshing around the bigger astronomical events. There are things happening out there which create particles with energies measured in Joules.

  7. TeeCee Gold badge
    Coat

    ...energy recovery linacs.

    Damn. I had one of those, but the little knob at the top came unscrewed and got lost, so I chucked it out.

  8. John Jennings Bronze badge

    Cool tech

    I so want a bright muon beam generator, with the tuned energy recovery linac

    I am sure I can find a shark somewhere, to do this right!

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Cool tech

      I so want a bright muon beam generator

      Is a bright muon beam one that can do the Times crossword in under 5 minutes?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Possibly find a new particle or actually solve homelessness?

    I know which problem I would solve.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Possibly find a new particle or actually solve homelessness?

      If you restrict yourself to only solving the little problems you'll never get very far. Finding that new particle might be the key to unlimited cheap energy, which would go a long way to solving all sorts of economic problems, including homelessness. We'll never know unless we try.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I'll go and tell the guy on the street corner he's going to have to wait a while...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But what do know is that we will have spent £21bn that cannot be spent anywhere else.

        1. Big_Boomer Silver badge

          Which comment shows that you have zero understanding of economics. It's not £21bn thrown into a furnace you know. The money is spent on things that are made by people, who earn wages, and buy things with those wages and donate to charities and pay taxes, which are sometimes used to take care of the less fortunate in a sane society. Whether we have a sane society is unfortunately open to debate.

      3. Smooth Newt Silver badge
        Meh

        Finding that new particle might be the key to unlimited cheap energy

        If you restrict yourself to only solving the little problems you'll never get very far. Finding that new particle might be the key to unlimited cheap energy, which would go a long way to solving all sorts of economic problems, including homelessness. We'll never know unless we try.

        One of the problems with this sort of argument is that it ignores opportunity cost.

        There is a very limited amount of research money. And a dozen ways that could be used to produce cheap energy that it could properly fund. Backing a complete outsider on the off-chance that it may turn up something useful is not good sense. It's like betting most of your money on the 1000 to 1 horse.

      4. Joe Harrison

        You don't understand business do you. If They invented unlimited cheap energy it wouldn't be unlimited or cheap for You

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh

      If you gave everyone who is homeless a free house, it wouldn't solve homelessness

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        If you gave everyone who is homeless a free house, it wouldn't solve homelessness

        See the Cobra Effect.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Meh

        Jesus remarked "You will always have poor people." It's not known whether this was a comment on the unwillingness of the rich to spread it around, or a profound economic and psychological insight.

        1. MrBanana

          Re: Meh

          "You will always have poor people."

          No one has come up with an equitable way of paying everyone the same amount of money for getting all the jobs done. Some group will find a way of being paid more, therefore everyone else will be poorer. It is just the same as stack ranking your employees. If you have a scale, then some will be at the low end, others at the high end.

    3. tfb Silver badge
      Alien

      That's because you don't understand what CERN is for. Which is fair enough because neither does CERN mostly.

      If we're going to have a long-term future as a civilisation ('long-term' being more than a lifetime ahead), we need two critical technologies (we need others, but we need these two).

      The first is really good batteries. Well, you carry around with you a machine which pretends to be a communication device but is in real life part of a large-scale test and development effort into good batteries. It's unfortunate that this effort is having bad side-effects: social media and the awful consequences of it, such as Trump & the other cartoon characters who have leaked into the world and will probably kill most of us. But battery development is proceeding well.

      The second is, unfortunately, something you can't fool people into testing in bulk for you, because it's not very domestic: large-scale superconducting power systems. You need these because you are going to need to ship enough electrical power to run half the world half way around the world, from where the power is made to where it's needed, and you're not doing that unless you have really enormous, really reliable, superconducting power networks.

      Well, that's what CERN is: it's a huge test and development environment for production superconducting power systems: by far the biggest in the world. Yes, there's some interesting particle physics strapped onto the side of it, but that's not what it's for: what its for is the development of really large-scale, production superconducting power systems and the people who understand how to build and run them.

      What it's for is giving civilisation hope of a future. That is unfortunately not something you can sacrifice, unless you don't want a future.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        You need these because you are going to need to ship enough electrical power to run half the world half way around the world, from where the power is made to where it's needed, and you're not doing that unless you have really enormous, really reliable, superconducting power networks.

        Bah humbug. One snag for high-energy physics is finding the energy. Or money to pay CERN's electricity bill. Or money to pay for CERN's carbon credits, as it's a large energy user, and less exempted would need to find a lot. But such is politics. So there have been ideas (in the very bad sense) of building massive solar farms in Libya, then shipping the power to EU-land. Which would be astronomically expensive, and a wasted investment if Egypt & Turkey decide to go at it over who's warlord should get to loot Libya.

        Improved superconducting cables and magnets might make that a bit easier, but then it might be better applied to building better generators for fission, or even fusion power. Or the physics lets us figure out neat ways to wrangle neutrons so we can use deuterium, or affordable ways to create tritium.

        But a fairly neat example of a collision between science & politics, where energy policy has a direct, negative impact on the science. But..

        plasma wakefield acceleration tech

        This I need. Day trips to Mars anyone?

        1. tfb Silver badge

          My assumption was that people will need to ship solar & wind power long distances, and there is too much to store with any feasible battery system: not for high-energy physics experiments, for general use. You need to ship it long distances because you need to ship it from where it's light and/or windy to where it's dark and/or still (without looking up the details I'm pretty sure we get low-wind, low-temperature weather systems which cover country-sized areas or larger, and you need not to die at night when those happen, or even during the day if you're far enough north). And yes, expensive, and yes, requires a non-fucked-up political situation, and yes, fusion and/or people deciding that fission power is fine (which it is) would resolve the issue. So I'm also assuming fusion won't happen soon enough and fission won't be accepted, and the political situation will not remain fucked up for ever.

          In fact, of course, the political situation will remain fucked for ever and we'll just keep burning fossil fuels until most of us die from the consequences. But I like to have some hope.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Given the location of CERN, I wonder how big a pumped storage reservoir you could get for €20 billion?

          2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            You need to ship it long distances because you need to ship it from where it's light and/or windy to where it's dark and/or still (without looking up the details I'm pretty sure we get low-wind, low-temperature weather systems which cover country-sized areas or larger..

            Yep, that can happen. Also one of the current challenges with the idea of 'supergrids' connecting countries. So the assumption that weather conditions will be right somewhere on the grid. Which is I guess good if you're that somewhere because you could then sell power to the highest bidder at a heavy premium.. And countries connected to that grid would have to pay for it's creation and management, and those at the edges of the network might not get power anway given it'd naturally flow to where there was load.

            But it's more about 'need'. It's only really a need because we've allowed regulatory capture so supply is decoupled from demand. It's a bit like saying we need to spend billions on unicorn welfare, ignoring anyone who points out the lack of unicorns.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Surely particle physicists aren't mandate to resolve social problems?

      And the €21bn hasn't disappeared, it has been redistributed so it is still available to solve homelessness if the various people and organisations who have been given it so wish. In fact, you never know one of the many tens of thousands of direct or indirect jobs that have been created or saved with this investment may go to someone who is homeless, or to someone who frees up their job and someone homeless then takes it over.

      Sometimes, unfortunately, no amount of money can be used to 'solve' all homelessness - mental health doesn't work that way.

    5. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Homelessness is a massively complex social / political / economic and medical nest of problems. Involving money, mental health, addiction, family breakdown and heaven knows what other issues. And €21bn split over the next 30 years probably isn't even enough to solve it in one single medium sized country. Let alone the whole world.

      Given that the LHC is an internationally funded science research project - finding that kind of money shouldn't actually be all that difficult. Particularly as it's been receiving regular funding for ages now - presumably the arguments that persuaded governments to give it the cash last time still apply - and it's not as if it hasn't been doing good science so far.

      Of course their real reason for asking for this funding may well be to develope the alchemion - that particle that needs to be added to any element in order to turn it into gold. At which point their funding needs are over. Or it's possible they already have, and this funding proposal is just a smokescreen...

    6. Filippo

      I really wish that the idea of noble goals being in competition with each other would just go away. They really aren't.

      First of all, in the long term, scientific research can and will improve the lives of the poor; this has been proven time and again. No, it won't do this in the short term. Always prioritizing the short term is arguably the reason we still even HAVE poverty.

      Secondly, there are a gazillion activities that do *nothing* to improve *anything* except maybe in the very shortest term, and quite a few that actively make things worse. If you feel fighting homelessness is the top-priority cause, that's great; please go knock at the doors of the defense industry, soccer, mainstream entertainment, junk food, whatever. The list is so long it isn't even funny.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Any area funded by government is in competition with all the others though. That is unfortunately true.

        However, the thing the OP missed is the all-important question, as we should have learned from Radio 4's More or Less. What do you mean you don’t listen to it...? The question: "Is this a big number?"

        Just because it ends in billion, that doesn’t always mean anything. In this case, €21bn is a decent chunk of change. But over the next 30 years? It’s suddenly far less. Over a similar timescale, and ignoring inflation, the UK health budget would be in the region of €4-€4.5 trillion ish.

        Even the EU budget, which is just over 1% of EU GDP, is €100bn a year, so 150 times as much, over the 30 years to 2050.

    7. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
  10. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

    THIS IS A VERY VERY VERY BAD IDEA !!!

    A Large Hadron Collider SIX TIMES MORE POWERFUL than the one at today's CERN is will bring the energy density level targeted towards a single small area of space/time MULTIPLE TIMES at 146+ Tera Electron-Volts MAY NUCLEATE a Vacuum Meta-instability Event where our current vacuum state falls towards a lower-than-current energy level and that means ALL the current universal constants are changed, which then means we all turn into a quark-gluon mush spreading outwards towards the rest of the universe at the speed of light!

    See Link:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_vacuum

    DEFUND CERN NOW !!!

    All Quarks Matter!

    I Can't Stabilize!

    V

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Pint

      we all turn into a quark-gluon mush spreading outwards towards the rest of the universe at the speed of light!

      Wheeeee! Count me in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And looking on the bright side, we would no longer have to worry about COVID, Trump, Greta, BREXIT, the Chinese...

      2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Bronze badge

        Where have I heard a quote like that before? Oh, yeah...

        "Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously, and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light." --Egon Spangler (Harold Ramis), Ghostbusters, 1984

        1. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge
          Boffin

          I thought the whole point of the Stargate was that you get reassembled at the other end of the wormhole...

    2. Stumpy Silver badge

      [i]a quark-gluon mush spreading outwards towards the rest of the universe at the speed of light![/i]

      That's just the remains of last-night's curry.

    3. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Ha, very good StargateSg7 - nice use of caps in particular. Pseudo-science bit subtle though...

      (... reads comment history of StargateSg7... )

      I am no longer confident that was a joke.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      2. Chris G Silver badge

        @ Androgynous Cupboard

        He has a youtube ufo/ whacky science channel if that is the kind of humour you like :-)

    4. MarkET

      1 TeV

      Still about the same power output as a bee passing wind

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: 1 TeV

        Can we have a new Register approved unit, the bee fart?

        1. MarkET

          Re: 1 TeV

          Roughly, 1 eV = 1.60218 × 10^(−19) Joules

          So, 1 TeV = 1.60218 x 10^(-7) Joules

          I'm sure there is a definitive guide to animal flatulence available on the web.

          1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

            Re: 1 TeV

            I'm sure there is a definitive guide to animal flatulence available on the web.

            There is but it doesn't mention bees.

      2. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

        Re: 1 TeV

        I know that 146+ TeV is not actually that much energy overall BUT the problem is that all that energy is directed at a very, very, very small space over and over and over again! We have NO CLUE as to how stable space/time actually is and whether we live in a truly STABLE Universe or a merely Metastable one!

        You have to look at the term ENERGY DENSITY which posits that 146+ TeV is applied to only an area that is an atom or three across! Scale that to virus size (i.e. 100 microns for arguments sake!) and that energy value is like multiple MONSTER-SIZED nuclear bombs!

        Ergo, that flapping-of-a-house-fly 146+ TeV amount COULD BE the mass/energy conversion equivalent to MULTIPLE 500 MEGATON NUCLEAR BOMBS at that 3 atoms across scale! We have NO IDEA what SIX TIMES the power of today's CERN LHC would do to the underlying fabric of space/time when that much energy is directed at these teeny tiny targets of matter!

        Why take the change of destroying this Universe because some person wanted to see what happens with a few 500 megaton nukes going off in some far off basement laboratory ?!

        V

        1. MarkET

          Re: 1 TeV

          I'd leave it 5 minutes. Might be a bee in there.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 1 TeV

          Why take the change of destroying this Universe because some person wanted to see what happens with a few 500 megaton nukes going off in some far off basement laboratory ?!

          Duh! For shits 'n giggles of course...

        3. tfb Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: 1 TeV

          I know that 146+ TeV is not actually that much energy overall BUT the problem is that all that energy is directed at a very, very, very small space over and over and over again! We have NO CLUE as to how stable space/time actually is and whether we live in a truly STABLE Universe or a merely Metastable one!

          Except we do have really good evidence that this is a non-problem. We've detected cosmic rays with energies above 5E19 eV (I think the highest we've seen is ~10^20 eV). This is half a million times more energy than the proposed collider will operate at.

          Whatever is making these things has presumably been doing so for a long time, and is almost certainly still doing so (we know that particles with energies this high can't travel large distances on cosmological scales, so they were produced relatively close to us). And the universe is still here.

          As a general rule: however extreme the physics we plan on doing, it is safe to assume that somewhere out there there is some natural process which is doing something absurdly more extreme.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: 1 TeV

          "Why take the change of destroying this Universe because some person wanted to see what happens with a few 500 megaton nukes going off in some far off basement laboratory ?!"

          I take it that you don't subscribe to the likelihood that amongst the beelions and beelions of galaxies out their, with there beelion and beelions of stars in each, with stars meelllions of years older than hours, that they're must have been someone/thing that's already tried this and the universe is still their.

          .

          .

          .

          .

          .

          .

          .

          Yes, I am messing with grammar nazis heads :-)

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Re: 1 TeV

          Black holes would like to say hello. Black hole mergers specifically. Oh, and their little brothers (sisters?) neutron star mergers.

          Add to that most things falling into supermassive black holes at galaxies centers, and we can periodically state that CERN is not powerful enough to cause any lasting damage from the device existing alone.

          Pointing it at the wrong place (person?), incorrectly powering/cooling/setting it on fire or using it wrongly would cause harm. This is true for anything, from air to rocks. I guess the particle accelerator is by nature more dangerous than a commenter using their home PC to post on this forum... but it's more the risk of those using it. Right!?

    5. HildyJ Silver badge
      Devil

      That would solve homelessness, poverty, privacy, and wars.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Devil

        That would solve homelessness, poverty, privacy, and wars.

        And Brussels Sprouts.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

          Re: That would solve homelessness, poverty, privacy, and wars.

          Do Brussels Sprouts need solving? What sort of answer would it be? Indeed, is it actually possible to solve them?

    6. eldakka Silver badge
      Holmes

      Considering cosmic ray energies are up to 3x10^20eV, 4 million times greater than the proposed FCC, I can't see how it will be a problem.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "4 million times greater than the proposed FCC"

        Trump and Pai won't allow it. They'll withdraw funding. Only the one true FCC is good, very good, very very good, the best.

    7. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Trollface

      Your understanding of our Universe is quite obviously much higher than that of the thousands of PhD-level experts in the field.

      Would you mind sharing your universal theory of physics with us ? You know, the one that binds quantum physics and the Standard Model that all the experts you are better than have been looking for since Einstein revealed that little problem ?

      With your vastly superior knowledge and understanding I'm sure you have already solved that on a napkin somewhere. Please share.

      </sarcasm>

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Oh, no! Pascal, take a look at the posting history of this person/bot - you might get an answer, but you wouldn't like it...

  11. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    A new vLHC? What could possibly go wrong...

    Aperture Labs and GladOS are proud to announce the 2021 bring your Daughter to work day...

    1. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: A new vLHC? What could possibly go wrong...

      Is there cake?

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: A new vLHC? What could possibly go wrong...

        If there's cake and beer I can bring mates and some music!

      2. CliveS

        Re: A new vLHC? What could possibly go wrong...

        "Is there cake?"

        If they say there is, then they're lying...

        1. Peter X

          Re: A new vLHC? What could possibly go wrong...

          Potatoes?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Dr. G. Freeman

    (Conflict of interest- sometimes work at CERN)

    £21 Billion over the next thirty years isn't really that much- I'll probably be playing with my grandkids by the time the Great Big Collider switches on, instead of watching my newborn Son/ portable radioactive napalm generator (delete as applicable) try and work out his universe.

    Like has already been said, it's not about the subatomic particle smashing, although its cool, and is part of my career, but its the spin-off stuff from the research that everyone's after/ wants.

    We had a lot of data to move around here, so Tim built the world-wide web to deal with it, and looked how that turned out.

    So who knows what we'll come up with trying to get the new thing to work, and isn't that the point of it all ? Making stuff that makes life better, while working out the whys of everything- if we didn't we'd still be in caves, with people complaining "don't use that fire thing, it's hot and somebody could get hurt".

    1. Andre Carneiro

      Not sure this is the perfect example. I am yet to be convinced that the benefits of the World Wide Web outweigh the disaster of Social Media

      (I'm joking.... sort of.... a little)

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        I think the WWW just about balances in humanity's favour even with the likes of FB, the tweetogarchy and

        'fluencers, you just have to believe that en masse there is something innately good about humanity.

        Right up to the moment we blow ourselves to kingdom come.*

        * Not via the BBHC (Bloody Big Hadron Collider)

    2. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge
      Happy

      You get to play with the fun toys?

      Just a little bit jealous...

      (But I probably wouldn't understand them)

    3. Brian Morrison

      There *are* people complaining about fire and people getting hurt by it.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Flame

        Oh, shove it up your nose!

  13. JDX Gold badge

    Doesn't sound very green

    Unless they are going to cover it with solar panels it probably won't be allowed

  14. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    I hope the base particle of dark matter is called the "epicyclon" although "littleboystickinghisfingerinthedyklon" has a certain ring to it. In most science an abject failure by theory to match experimental results would be seen as a problem with the theory - it's only in physics that reality is found to be at fault.

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      You may not have noticed but people have in fact spent a lot of effort trying to come up with new theories which match the data and they are still doing that. This has been problematic to put it rather mildly, so other people are also investigating the possibility that the theory is OK but there's missing matter.

      This has happened before: energy seemed to be leaking away in beta decay. One group (or one person: Bohr: I don't know who else) proposed that the theories we had were wrong (specifically that energy conservation was statistical for some processes), while another group (Pauli & Fermi) proposed that the energy was leaking away in some unseen particle. 20 years later people found it, and 40 years after that the people who found it won the Nobel prize.

      Perhaps this time it will turn out that GR is wrong and there is no missing matter. But until we can come up with some other theory which – matches the data – agrees with GR in all the places where we've tested GR and found out it works well – isn't just some grody hack involving epicycles glued onto GR – we'd be well-advised to explore both possibilities. So that's what we're doing.

      Of course, it's easier and more amusing just to snipe at physicists: I realise that.

  15. renke

    name suggestion

    When the LHC was introduced an astonishing amount of news reports talked about the Large Hardon Collider. Someone collected examples on the now - unfortunately - defunct site largehardoncollider.com. Not the worst name for a friggin huge apparatus with plasma wakefields and everything.

    1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: name suggestion

      This site still running fine http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: name suggestion

      How about The Bloody Enormous Hadron Collider?

      1. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: name suggestion

        BFHC surely?

  16. Kimo

    High-field superconducting magnets, high-temperature superconductors, plasma wakefield acceleration tech, bright muon beams? My local police probably already have all the bits and are using them for crowd control.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      But does Wakefield want to be accelerated by plasma?

  17. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Boffin

    Lack of power

    "The Register imagines some of our readers have advanced prototypes of most of the above under that pile of unfinished Raspberry Pi projects out in the garage."

    I was working on a breadboard prototype, but that stuff doesn't even deal well with a 3-phase 35A mains feed, let alone the currents needed for a plasma wakefield accelerator, so I went and made a device that goes 'ping'[0] when the water kettle switches off because the kettle itself doesn't.

    [0] And it's a very nice 'ping' indeed.

  18. JanMeijer
    Coat

    at least the power won't be a problem in 2050

    That new collider will be arriving around the same time as unlimited fusion energy. And my pension. Mine's the one with the IOUs in it...

  19. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Boffin

    "produce copious Higgs bosons in a very clean environment"

    Any chance the new collider would be about 25% cheaper if it were a little more dirty? :)

  20. Charles Smith

    The answer

    Is 42.

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