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It is a few years since I posted here on Lifeboat Foundation blogs, but with the news breaking recently of CERN’s plans to build the FCC [1], a new high energy collider to dwarf the groundbreaking engineering triumph that is the LHC, I feel obliged to write a few words.

The goal of the FCC is to greatly push the energy and intensity frontiers of particle colliders, with the aim of reaching collision energies of 100 TeV, in the search for new physics [2]. Below linked is a technical note I wrote & distributed last year on 100 TeV collisions (at the time referencing the proposed China supercollider [3][4]), highlighting the weakness of the White Dwarf safety argument at these energy levels, and a call for a more detailed study of the Neutron star safety argument, if to be relied on as a solitary astrophysical assurance. The argument applies equally to the FCC of course:

The Next Great Supercollider — Beyond the LHC :

The LSAG, and others including myself, have already written on the topic of astrophysical assurances at length before. The impact of CR on Neutron stars is the most compelling of those assurances with respect to new higher energy colliders (other analogies such as White Dwarf capture based assurances don’t hold up quite as well at higher energy levels). CERN will undoubtedly publish a new paper on such astrophysical assurances as part of the FCC development process, though would one anticipate it sooner rather than later, to lay to rest concerns of outsider-debate incubating to a larger audience?

Hope springs eternal. Hearing that folk from China’s IHEP were later in contact with the LSAG on this specific issue, one infers due diligence is in mind, albeit seemingly in retrospect again, on the premise that as CERN take up the baton, significant progress in collecting further input for the overall assessment (eg from cosmic rays, direct astrophysical observations, etc) is expected in the ~20 years timescale of development.

Meanwhile those of us keen on new science frontiers, and large scale engineering projects, have exciting times ahead yet again with a new CERN flagship.

[1] Cern draws up plans for machine four times the size of Large Hadron Collider

[2] The Future Circular Collider Study (FCC) at CERN

[3] The next super-collider, The Economist, 2018.

[4] Reflecting on China’s Ambition to Build the World’s Most Powerful Supercollider, Existential Risk/Opportunity Singularity Management, 2015.

[5] The Next Great Supercollider — Beyond the LHC :

[6] Progress in Seeking a More Thorough Safety Analysis for China’s Supercollider

Do you remember all the hoopla last year when the Higgs Boson was confirmed by physicists at the Large Hadron Collider? That’s the one called the ‘God particle’, because it was touted as helping to resolve the forces of nature into one elegant theory. Well—Not so fast, bucko!…

First, some credit where credit is due: The LHC is a 27-kilometer ring of superconducting magnets interspersed by accelerators that boost the energy of the particles as they whip around and smash into each other. For physicists—and anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of what goes into everything—it certainly inspires awe.

Existence of the Higgs Boson (aka, The God Particle) was predicted. Physicists were fairly certain that it would be observed. But its discovery is a ‘worst case’ scenario for the Standard Model of particle physics. It points to shortcomings in our ability to model and predict things. Chemists have long had a master blueprint of atoms in the Periodic Table. It charts all the elements in their basic states. But, physicists are a long way from building something analogous. That’s because we know a lot more about atomic elements than the fundamental building blocks of matter and energy. [continue below image]

So, what do we know about fundamental particles the forces that bind them? HINT: There are 61 that we know of or have predicted and at least two about which we don’t yet have any clue: The pull of Gravity and dark matter / dark energy.

This video produced by the BBC Earth project is an actors’ portrayal of a news interviewer and a particle physicist. If we were to simply watch these two guys talk in front of a camera, it would be pretty boring (unless, of course, the physicist has charm and panache, like the late Richard Feynman or my own Cornell professor, Carl Sagan). So, to spice it up a bit, BBC has added a corny animation of two guys talking with an anthropomorphic illustration of cartoon particles. Corny? Yes! But it helps to keep a viewer captivated. And, for any armchair physicist, the story is really exciting!

See the video here. It takes a moment to load—but for me, the wait is worthwhile.