The Next European Particle Accelerator – Does CERN Need Another Supercollider?

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Europe is currently investigating plans to build a new 100km particle collider to supersede the world famous Large Hadron Collider (LHC). But what would CERNs immense project bring to the world of science and beyond?

A new, larger European particle accelerator would almost certainly be the most ambitious experiment ever constructed, and require truly global collaboration over the course of decades. The result would allow physicists to probe the Universe’s conditions moments after the Big Bang, expanding our understanding of the fundamental laws of nature.

But the benefits would go well beyond particle physics. Such immense scientific enquiry inevitably leads to off shoots and indirect benefits. Particle physics has led to everything from the birth of the internet to the imaging of biological molecules, which has proven crucial in our efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of the most profound impacts, though, cannot be quantified. Pursuing the fundamental research concerning the next European particle accelerator brings together nations around the world and inspires future generations of scientists of all disciplines. As Jeremy Farrar puts it, our quest to probe the laws of nature is “something akin to a modern Enlightenment.”

Zulfikar Abbany is a Senior Science Editor and multimedia journalist for Germany’s international broadcaster, DW (Deutsche Welle). He has produced and presented events for the European XFEL, DESY and World Health Summit in Germany, DATA.SPACE in Glasgow and spoken at the Battle of Ideas in London. Before that he was in news and current affairs with Australia Network television and Radio Australia for the Asia Pacific region. He has written for New Scientist, The Independent, The Observer, Sydney Morning Herald and The (Melbourne) Age newspapers.

Ursula Bassler, research director at CNRS – France, is currently President of the CERN Council, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, and adviser for diversity and scientific impact at the French National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (IN2P3). After her PhD, obtained in 1993 at the Pierre et Marie Curie University in Paris, her research activities have been dedicated in particular to the study of the proton structure and the properties of the top quark, as well as to the instruments necessary to this research field. She participated to international collaborations with several hundreds of scientists at particle colliders in Germany (HERA at DESY, Hamburg) and the United States (Tevatron at Fermilab, close to Chicago). In the following, she directed the Particle Physics Division at the French Atomic Energy Commission, CEA-Irfu between 2007 and 2013, before being appointed Scientific Director for Particle Physics and Computing at IN2P3 and becoming deputy director of the institute between 2016 and 2018.

Nigel Lockyer began his tenure as Director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in September 2013. Under his leadership, Fermilab has realigned its mission with the recommendations of the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel report and has set a course for world leadership in accelerator-based neutrino research through the construction of the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility, Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment and Proton Improvement Plan (PIP-II). As part of the mission, Fermilab plans to produce the most powerful, high intensity neutrino beams by upgrading the accelerator complex beginning with PIP-II. An experimental particle physicist, Lockyer spent six years at the helm of TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for nuclear and particle physics, from 2007 to 2013. Lockyer holds a Ph.D. in physics from The Ohio State University, is a fellow of the American Physical Society and received the society’s 2006 Panofsky Prize for his leading research on the bottom quark.

Before joining Wellcome in October 2013, Jeremy Farrar was Director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Viet Nam for 18 years. His research interests were infectious diseases and global health, with a focus on emerging infections. He has published almost 600 articles, mentored many dozens of students and fellows, and served as Chair on several advisory boards for governments and global organisations.He was named 12th in the Fortune list of 50 World’s Greatest Leaders in 2015 and was awarded the Memorial Medal and Ho Chi Minh City Medal from the Government of Viet Nam. In 2018 he was awarded the President Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Humanitarian of the Year Award. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences UK, the National Academies USA, the European Molecular Biology Organisation and a Fellow of The Royal Society. Jeremy was knighted in the Queen’s 2019 New Year Honours for services to global health.

Beate Heinemann is a leading scientist at DESY, and a professor for experimental particle physics at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg. She has worked on the H1 experiment at DESY, on the CDF experiment at Fermilab in the United States, and since 2007 she is a member of the ATLAS collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva. With her research she aims to obtain a deeper understanding of the fundamental particles and their interactions. She focuses on measurements probing the weak interaction and the Higgs boson, and on searches for dark matter at the LHC. She also works on the construction of future tracking detectors which will be installed in the next decade.

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