Astronomers have gone from a series of large telescopes, to the Very Large Telescope (VLT), and even now to the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). So it comes as no surprise that scientists at CERN are hoping for a size upgrade to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
The current collider, the seriously impressive 17-mile-circumference monster, has already highlighted signs of the Higgs boson – a particle that previously only existed in theory – and has also aided in a large number of other experiments, such as trying to determine what conditions were like just after the Big Bang, or better understanding of how particles interact. But with all particle physics experiments, more energy is always better, because higher-energy collisions mean that we can see more particles – particularly the heavier, rarer ones we don’t understand as well (remember that mass is equivalent to energy, so the higher the energy, the more mass there is available to make particles).
The Future Circular Collider programme aims for a collider that has a circumference of between 50 and 62 miles, able to smash particles together at energies of up to 100 TeV, nearly 10 times more than the LHC’s current capacity, and also able to provoke the whole creation-of-a-black-hole argument all over again.