What is Future Circular Collider (FCC)?

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator located at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva, Switzerland. CERN scientists now want to push ahead with a €16 billion expansion of the LHC called the Future Circular Collider (FCC) which would have a 91km ring over three times the size of the existing collider.

Objectives of the Expansion

The proposed FCC aims to probe deeper into the fundamental mysteries of physics and the origins of the universe. It would collide particles at unprecedented energies to investigate phenomena such as dark matter, supersymmetry, extra dimensions, antimatter asymmetry and other new physics beyond the Standard Model. The FCC would build on the successes of the LHC which discovered the Higgs boson in 2012, the final missing piece of the Standard Model.

Benefits Beyond Pure Science

While focused on exploring fundamental physics, the FCC would also drive technological innovation with developments in areas like superconducting magnets, cryogenics and energy storage. CERN highlights how even pure science projects can yield practical applications, like the birth of the World Wide Web over 30 years ago at CERN. Expanding international collaboration would be a key aspect.

Feasibility Study and Funding

CERN plans to complete a feasibility study on the FCC expansion in 2023. The project would require securing significant funding from CERN’s 23 member states and enhanced contributions from non-member countries. CERN is exploring the possibilities but no final decisions have been made yet on approval or funding mechanisms.

Debate Over Large Investments in Science

The FCC proposal has intensified debates over massive spending on large-scale science projects versus more targeted research with clear practical impacts. Proponents argue pure science leads to transformative if unpredictable benefits. Critics contend the money would be better spent on more pressing global issues and applied research needs.

Alternate Views on the Investment

Some scientists question if the FCC’s discoveries would justify the expense. Particle physicist Sabine Hossenfelder argues it would cost more but offer less discovery potential than prior colliders. Others say the funds should address urgent real-world problems like climate change or education. But CERN argues their benefits extend beyond pure science.

Momentum and Outlook

Despite criticisms, the CERN leadership and governing council support further developing FCC plans. Interim reports found no technological barriers. CERN’s director-general Fabiola Gianotti asserts the FCC would yield fundamental physics insights while driving useful innovations. The proposal signals CERN’s continued priority on exploring the deepest mysteries through ever more powerful particle colliders.



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