CERN to Build New Atom Collider to Find Rest of the Universe

    CERN to Build New Atom Collider to Find Rest of the Universe
    Photo: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • The Geneva, Switzerland-based European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which is home to the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator, has initiated its plan to develop a new accelerator called the Future Circular Collider. It will cost 20B euros ($21.5B), be three times the size of the LHC, and have a 91km (56 miles) circumference.

    • The current price tag, which is only for initial construction costs, will be funded by CERN member states, such as the UK. The plan is for it to be built in two stages, the first of which is expected to begin in the 2040s to collide electrons. The second phase, which will collide heavier protons, is projected to begin in the 2070s, though it will require more powerful magnets that have not yet been invented.


    The Spin

    Narrative A

    Previous colliders like the Large Hadron Collider have brought us world-changing knowledge concerning what the universe is made of and how it works. However, for scientists to understand dark energy and matter, it will take decades of research and exponentially more energy to discover — quite literally — new physics. Lessons learned from past technological shortfalls and failures in resource and budget management will also help the world's physicists come together to build something more powerful than currently imaginable.

    Narrative B

    While the potential discoveries touted by CERN sound amazing, the billions of dollars in just starting costs are not worth a project that could very well lead to nothing. Since the 1940s, scientists have made incremental progress until they discovered the Higgs boson particle — which has established the Standard Model law of physics. What CERN wants to spend decades of work and billions of dollars investigating now — dark matter and dark energy — are things that currently have no evidence behind them and might not be possible to find. There are better uses of these massive funds.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 51% chance that we will know what Dark Matter is before 2050, according to the Metaculus prediction community.


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