The National Academies

Scientists Release Designs for Particle Accelerator

By Sarah Morocco

February 22 - An international group of 60 scientists has released initial designs for the International Linear Collider. If constructed, the machine would slam subatomic particles with opposing energies into each other to simulate the conditions that occurred moments after the universe was created.

The International Linear Collider is intended to accompany another particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, which is in its final stages of construction at the European Center for Nuclear Research near Geneva. Using these particle accelerators together, scientists hope to learn more about laws of physics and forms of matter, investigate the nature of dark matter and the vacuum of space, and deepen our understanding of the shape of the universe.

The International Linear Collider would span 20 miles and require $6.7 billion and 13,000 labor years to construct, and would be built in one of three possible sites: Japan, Europe, or the United States. Scientists acknowledge that it may be years before the particle accelerator is built, while research and development is completed and location and funding plans are developed.

Two reports from the National Academies discuss the scientific promise of particle accelerators. Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century describes the importance of technologies like particle accelerators that can provide answers to the many questions surrounding the creation of the universe. Revealing the Hidden Nature of Space and Time: Charting the Course for Elementary Particle Physics recommends that the United States assume a leadership position in the design, management, and funding of the International Linear Collider and deems it the most important proposed new facility in elementary particle physics.

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