China unveils world's largest supercollider
The underground particle-smashing ring aims to be at least twice the size of the globe's current leading collider - the Large Hadron Collider (CERN) outside Geneva. With a circumference of 80 kilometres, the Chinese accelerator complex would encircle the entire island of Manhattan.
A preliminary conceptual design for this leading-edge particle physics laboratory is now being drafted by China's elite sphere of physicists, joined by a circle of Western counterparts.
Called the Circular Electron Positron Collider (CEPC), China hopes it will shine as a symbol of the country's rise as a global superpower in terms of pure scientific research.
"This machine is by and for the world," explains Professor Gao Jie, one of the leaders of the project at the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing.
Beijing plans to speedily expand cooperation between China's foremost physicists and their European and American counterparts with the new collider.
The new collider research outpost, situated on the Avenue of Eternal Peace in the centre of Beijing, is aiding in the conceptual design that plans to be submitted to China's top leadership in December, according to Professor Arkani-Hamed, a scholar at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, the one-time home of Albert Einstein.
The collider complex is initially designed to smash together electrons and their anti-matter counterparts, and later more massive protons, at velocities approaching the speed of light.
This process hopes to recreate, inside the accelerator, the hyper-energy conditions that dominated following the Big Bang. Physicists aim to explore the origins of matter, energy, and space-time. China's bigger collider will ultimately be able to reach higher energy levels than CERN; this might help physicists discover a new range of particles beyond those already charted in the Standard Model of Particle Physics. ■