Lack of discoveries is damaging prospects for next big particle collider

Science | AAAS | 2/28/2019 | Staff
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Particle physicists are fretting that they don't know what their next collider will be or where to build it. Europe, China, and Japan have each released plans for a successor to the current biggest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe's particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. Yet the LHC's worrying lack of discoveries is making it hard for physicists to rally support for the megaprojects from governments or their colleagues.

The successor machine thought to be closest to hand, the International Linear Collider (ILC), is bringing these concerns to a head. By the time members of the Linear Collider Board meet in Tokyo on 7 March, Japan's government is expected to have issued a statement about whether it will host the $7.5 billion machine. The physicists are holding their collective breath. After a critical report published in December 2018 by the Science Council of Japan (SCJ), even a hint of official support would please some ILC supporters. "If the statement is like, ‘We would like to host the ILC, provided that the international negotiations are successful,’ it would be very positive," says Hitoshi Yamamoto, a physicist at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan.

Years - Particle - Physicists - Discovery - Higgs

Just 7 years ago, particle physicists rejoiced in the discovery of the Higgs boson amid the wreckage of proton collisions at the LHC. The Higgs was the last missing piece in physicists' standard model of elementary particles and forces and the linchpin in their explanation of how all fundamental particles acquire their mass. But many were hoping to find new particles and forces not predicted by the standard model. On that account, the LHC has so far come up empty.

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Many physicists have long argued that their next big machine should be a...
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