China to build world’s most powerful collider

The circumference of the collider will be about 100 km, twice as large as CERN’s LHC

Photo: Flickr China hope that the CEPC will generate millions of Higgs boson particles

The Chinese scientific community intends to build by 2030, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator that will be twice as large and seven times as powerful as CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The project is estimated to cost 35bn yuan ($5.05bn) and will be located in Chinese town of Qinhuangdao at the coastal end of another enormous project of the past, the Great Wall.

Breaking ground as early as 2021 and starting to take data by 2028, the Chinese behemoth aims to be in operation until 2055 and define the frontiers of particle physics for the next two generations.

“The circumference of the Collider will be about 100 km, the total energy of 240 GeV. Both will put the world record,” said Director of the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing Wang Yifang, adding that the conceptual design for the Circular Electron Positron Collider (CEPC) already passed international examinations in September. He also noted that the Collider will create a greater number of Higgs bosons than the LHC in Europe.

Scientists from the US, Europe and Japan, also involved in the development of the project, will work on its construction and be able to do research on the Collider. To maximize the life of the facility, the scientists also intend to upgrade the electron-positron Collider proton Collider until around 2040. By the time the energy of the center of mass of the CEPC will reach about 100TeV, which is seven times more powerful LHC.

Yet, astrophysicist Martin Rees, famous for his contributions to black hole formation to extragalactic radio sources and the evolution of the universe, thinks that there’s a chance the colliders could cause a “catastrophe that engulfs space itself”. According to Rees the vacuum of space is not an empty void and has in it “all the forces and particles that govern the physical world.” Thus, he assumes, it’s possible that the vacuum we can observe is in reality “fragile and unstable.”

What means is that when a collider such as CERN’s LHC creates unimaginably concentrated energy by smashing particles together, Rees says, it can create a “phase transition” which would tear asunder the fabric of space,” which cause a cosmic calamity not just a terrestrial one.” The possibility is that quarks would reassemble themselves into compressed objects called strangelets. That in itself would be harmless. However under some hypotheses a strangelet could, by contagion, convert anything else it encounters into a new form of matter, transforming the entire earth in a hyperdense sphere about one hundred meters across – the size of a soccer field.

It was "groundless and with no scientific basis" to speculate that a collider could create a black hole that puts lives at risk, Wang commented on Reese statement. "Powerful cosmic rays and nuclei clash daily on Earth at forces a million times stronger than those created in any lab."

"Similar concerns were raised before the LHC began running in Europe and time has proven its safety," he said.

Similar articles