International Linear Collider

Posted on February 8, 2007  Comments (0)

Price of Next Big Thing in Physics: $6.7 Billion

At a news conference in Beijing an international consortium of physicists released the first detailed design of what they believe will be the Next Big Thing in physics: a machine 20 miles long that will slam together electrons and their evil-twin opposites, positrons, to produce fireballs of energy recreating conditions when the universe was only a trillionth of a second old.

Physicists acknowledge it could be years before the world commits to building the ILC, although jockeying for the costly privilege of hosting the giant machine has already begun. For its purposes, the committee priced three different sites: near CERN in Switzerland, at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill, and in the mountains of Japan, and found that the so-called site-specific costs, like digging tunnels and shafts and supplying water and electricity, were nearly the same in each case, about $1.8 billion.

The host country would be expected to shoulder these costs, the design collaboration said, while the remaining $4.9 billion, which covers high-tech things like magnets and control rooms, would be split among all the participants. Extras like auditoriums, cafeterias and living space for scientists were not included in the cost estimate, since at some places like Fermilab they already exist.

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