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The 100 Km Long Future Circular Collider (FCC)

This article on the Future Circular Collider (FCC) is a guest article by Anja Sjöström, an IB diploma student from Switzerland.

The Future Circular Collider (FCC) is CERN’s (European Center for Nuclear Research) prospective supercollider and would potentially be the most powerful one ever built. According to the release of the official report on the 15th January 2019, the FCC would be as much as 4 times long as the 27-kilometer-long Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which to this day is largest collider in the world and nearly 6 times as powerful. While studying different options for construction and development, most scenarios outline the ambitions of a 100-kilometer-long tunnel to be dug under that of the LHC.

As such, the FCC would be following three prospective tracks and types of particle collisions: hadron collisions, electron-positron collisions, and proton-electron collisions. This project, involving the elaboration of different colliders, detectors, associated equipment, planning, and bureaucratic considerations, etc., is a collaboration between universities, research facilities, and industries from all around the world, hosted by CERN, and is set to be concretized and completed around 2050.

Future Circular Collider
Proposed Plan for Future Circular Collider, Credits: CERN

Scientific aims and goals

The aim of the FCC is to reach new and unprecedented levels of energy and luminosity and is set to replace the LHC once its lifespan comes to a term. This would enable scientists to explore the standard model in greater depth, by studying known particles whose parameters and characteristics still remain vague with higher precision than what proton-proton collisions have to offer. In addition to improvement, the FCC aims to complement existing designs for other colliders, such as the International Linear Collider (ILC) and the Compact Linear Collider (CLIC).

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How would it differ from the LHC?

Having now completed our overview of the standard model, and discoveries by the LHC having come to a halt despite extensive efforts and tests (since the discovery and detection of the Higgs boson in 2012), the prospect of a new collider would offer scientists the opportunity to peer into other areas where the laws of physics still remain vague and unsolved.

For instance, the Future Circular Collider would allow us to explore dark-matter and anti-matter. However, such considerations remain purely speculative and the only relative certainty the scientists hold regarding the finality of the FCC is for it to allow for the more precise measurement of known particles and parameters. leading to better and more meticulous predictions.

Future Circular Collider Diagram
A Layout Of Future Circular Collider in comparison to Large Hardon Collider. Credits: CERN

This is primarily due to the considerable change in kinetic energy, both in proton-proton (pp) and electron-positron (e+e) collisions, between the LHC and FCC. The LHC would account for collision at 14 TeV for pp and 2009 GeV for e+e, while the FCC for collisions at 100 TeV for pp and 90-350 GeV for e+e.

Read all the articles of the Basics of Astrophysics series here

Plan of action and cost

Seeing beyond the present and peering into what the future of particle physics holds is the job of the team working of the Future Circular Collider since 2014. They have been working and collaborating with various European nations that have already offered their financial support to CERN. However, the cost remains considerable and is currently estimated at 20 billion euros.

Watch: Why was the LHC built?

Hesitancy and reluctance in the scientific community

As the concerns and priorities of scientists greatly diverge depending on their beliefs, wills, and fields of interest, some individuals in the community have expressed their concerns regarding the high cost of the Future Circular Collider and believe that such sums of money could be better spent elsewhere. Furthermore, the lack of concrete proof that a new collider would promise new insights leads scientists to believe this timely and costly project as an unwise use of resources. As such, investments on new telescopes, or facilities and establishments on the moon are seen as timelier by some.

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