CERN has accepted plans to construct a $23 billion super collider 100 km in diameter (62 miles) that would make the existing 27 km 16 teraelectron volt (TeV) Large Hadron Collider (LHC) look tiny in comparison. The CERN Future Circular Collider (FCC) would break down particles together with more than 100 TeV of energy to create many more of the elusive Higgs bosons first detected by CERN in 2012. This “Higgs Factory” would be the key to helping physicists learn more about the dark matter and other mysteries of the Standard Physics Model.
“The Strategy is above all driven by science and thus presents the scientific priorities for the field,” says Ursula Bassler, President of the CERN Council. “The European Strategy Group (ESG) – a special body set up by the Council – successfully led a strategic reflection to which several hundred European physicists contributed.” The scientific vision outlined in the Strategy should serve as a guideline to CERN and facilitate a coherent science policy across Europe.
“This is a very ambitious strategy, which outlines a bright future for Europe and for CERN with a prudent, step-wise approach. We will continue to invest in strong cooperative programmes between CERN and other research institutes in CERN’s Member States and beyond,” declares CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti. “These collaborations are key to sustained scientific and technological progress and bring many societal benefits.”
“The natural next step is to explore the feasibility of the high-priority recommendations, while continuing to pursue a diverse programme of high-impact projects,” explains ESG chair Halina Abramowicz. “Europe should keep the door open to participating in other headline projects that will serve the field as a whole, such as the proposed International Linear Collider project.”
The CERN Future Circular Collider will be in untapped territory, says Tara Shears, a physicist at Liverpool University , UK. The LHC had a simple aim to search for — the Higgs boson — as well as the well-motivated reasons for the theorists to assume that there could be new particles in the mass spectrum that could be explored, but the situation is different now, she says. “We don’t have an equivalent, rock-solid prediction now — and that makes knowing where and how to look for answers more challenging and higher risk.”