Texas A&M Scientists Want the World's Largest Hadron Collider to Encircle Dallas

Categories: Science

HiggsBoson.jpg
The Higgs boson might have been discovered in Texas, if only.
It's been two decades since Congress killed the Superconducting Super Collider. Had the $11 billion project been completed, it would have become -- and would still be -- the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world, and Waxahachie of all places would be the global epicenter of particle physics research.

Instead, the federal government wound up spending $2 billion to build a 14-mile hole beneath Ellis County, and the Higgs boson was discovered several hundred feet below Switzerland.

Scientists, though, have never quite abandoned the ambition that led them to envision the SSC, which explains why a group of them at Texas A&M (plus one from Michigan State University), are suggesting reviving the project as "Higgs Factory," which would be complemented by a 270-kilometer (167.8-mile) hadron collider.

That's 10 times larger, and more than 10 times as powerful, as the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. It would encircle the entire city of Dallas.

They provide a couple of main reasons why such a ridiculously audacious plan might be workable. For one, the first tunnel is halfway dug; scientists could partner with the state of Texas to get it finished.

With that in place, the A&M physicists argue that adding the 270-kilometer hadron collider would be relatively cheap, at least compared wtih building a comparable facility in Europe. The rock in North Texas is chalky and much easier to bore through than the rock that underlies the Alps. The actual digging would cost about a sixth as much here.

"So," an article in Ars Technica explains, "you could get a larger tunnel for the same price as you would by digging around Geneva. With a larger tunnel, you don't have to have magnets that are nearly as strong to keep the protons curving around the circumference to get to the 50TeV speeds CERN is thinking about. The cheaper magnets offset the cost of tunneling.

"Of course, you'd probably need more liquid helium to cool that much more hardware, which would make operating it more expensive than the CERN plan. The authors, however, note this just once and never mention it again."

While the prospect of subatomic particles hurtling at incredibly high speeds below North Texans' feet is, in a word, awesome, there's nothing to suggest this is anything more than a scientists' pipe dream.

Here's Ars Technica again:

[T]he trend in the US toward budget cutting has meant that the country is an extremely unreliable partner for large international scientific endeavors (like the European Space Agency and the ITER fusion reactor). Something like this would take years to build, and the US budgeting process hasn't demonstrated that sort of attention span in recent years.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.


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52 comments
ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

That 25 mile radius would go under lakes lavon, Lewisville, Arlington, grapevine. You wanna trust the contractor with our water supply?

I don't think so, Tim.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Just misspell it in a headline - hardon, and make Jeffress' brain explode.

or locate it in Oak Lawn, probably already enough hardons colliding that a few more wood not be noticed.

LeroyJenkem
LeroyJenkem

Very seriously, good luck on this. The only reason why the previous SSC stood a chance was because of former Senator Phil Gramm. Oh, he was only interested in it as a pork barrel project to attract Dallas contributors to his 1996 Presidential campaign (you know, the one where he collected nearly $20 million and still rated near the bottom in every primary and caucus), and that's the reason why it collapsed. Namely, Congress made a wonderfully bipartisan vote to shut it down after Gramm and a few of his toadies screwed up the 1994 federal budget compromise by throwing a tantrum unless he got a balanced budget Constitutional amendment added to it. I remember that vote, where Democrat and Republican joined forces not to vote against science, but to give "The Esteemed Senator From Enron" the finger.


And now we come 20 years later. In a perfect world, this could get a significant amount of federal funding, even though this still isn't a great place to dig a tunnel of this size. Yes, the rock here is softer than in the Alps, but it's also weaker, and it has serious problems with methane outgassing and structural failure. (You may note that the reason why the DART train system has only that one small area near Downtown that's underground. That's because Highland Park was pressuring DART to keep the trains from being visible to their poor suffering eyes, and DART had to go through three geologists until it found an idiot willing to agree that a subway for that area was possible or even sane.) The real problem, though, is finding someone in Congress willing to represent the Dallas area who isn't completely useless. John "Man On Box Turtle" Cornyn is too busy consolidating what power he has to do anything, and Ted Cruz can't walk through a playground without throwing hissy fits about how the other kids are playing on HIS swings, much less conduct the subtle and delicate negotiations necessary to get the rest of Congress to give him the time of day. Don't even get me going about our US Representatives. Combine that with the fact that, with one obvious and blaring exception, this year's gubernatorial and lieutenant governor candidates would have problems spelling "science", and we're screwed. It _might_ be possible if we had someone like Gramm in charge, who could bounce between sucking off the bookburners and young-earth creationists for the next election and pretending that he actually grasped what a hadron collider would accomplish other than making a lot of developers extremely rich. But with Cruz and Cornyn as our Senators? Not a chance in hell.

Catbird
Catbird

If they could get Calatrava to design it we could put it in the Trinity River!

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Want private funding? Build it in the median of LBJ/I35. Tell Ricky's Spaniard butt buddies they can chrge the protons tolls.

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Already have a Collider - it's the Dallas city council

gm0622
gm0622

If they wait about two years, Seattle might have a slightly used tunnel boring machine for sale.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

If successful, they could set up fusion and make their own helium.

On the plus side, if they formed a black hole we'd be the first to go!

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

NatGeo has an absorbing piece on its website entitled, "The God Particle", which gives us lay people some understanding of this fascinating project. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

crowdfunding

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

It's a well known fact that underground Hadons have been associated with spontaneous gender mutations in frogs.

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

take it to Kickstarter, we got football stadiums to build.

ruddski
ruddski

It'll never work, because right-wing Texas is anti-science (that was sarcasm for you folks in Rio Linda), and because social justice, expansion of economic rights and closing of the inequality gap are America's top priorities now, and under President Clinton's coming reign. We as a country must focus on need, and we simply do not have the ability to pursue such scientific folly.

Now, if Google and Apple can be tempted somehow, it'll be built in a year, under budget, it'll actually function, and employ thousands.

And as long as we're at it, can we not also make it the world's largest NASCAR track?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@bvckvs  hiring you as a teachers assistant reduces educational standards

ruddski
ruddski

I just KNEW it had to be the fault of Republicans, even in a dem-controlled congress.

I'm beginning to think even Lewinsky was a Republican.

For such ignorant people, right wingers sure are capable of thwarting liberal democrats when those dems are just trying their best to save mankind. Maybe the ignorance is an act! Curses, foiled again!

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Good one. What is Slim's line as he climbs down into bomb bay?

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@Sotiredofitall  

but they never smash together; probably because they never achieve the speed of a bike lane rider, much less the speed of light.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

News today is the borer might be stranded.

MaxNoDifference
MaxNoDifference

@Montemalone We already have a black hole. He's on the Dallas County Commissioner's Court.

ruddski
ruddski

@Monte

If they started producing helium there, and Texas legalized pot, Dallas could steal a certain city's slogan.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@oakclifftownie  

No one would touch it given what happened to the last effort.

The old sow rolled over on everyone involved, and never even batted an eye.

Never hitch your wagon to a government mule.

ruddski
ruddski

@Jim

There are so few French in this area, who cares?

Edit: Holman beat me to it

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@JimSX  

I fought their kind in the great war.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ruddski  

Another reason why President Putin said this weekend that "Texas cannot be allowed to secede."  I think I've got that right.

Besides.  That thing would cause earthquakes and fire would leap out of my spigot.

ruddski
ruddski

Bvcks

Because the fictional chapter is highly intelligent, I assume.

What keeps you here?

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

@holmantx @oakclifftownie"Scientists, though have never quite abandoned the ambition that led them to envision the SSC, which explains why a group of them at Texas A&M (plus one from Michigan State University), are suggesting reviving the project....."

Then tell these guys to leave the university cocoon start their own company and find the investors with the capitol for such a project ! 

I mean Fully funded by the Private Sector.



holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ruddski  

I plagiarized so let me attribute for the record:

Hollis P. Wood (Slim Pickens) in the movie "1942", who exclaimed when encountering the Kraut on the conn of the Jap sub.

Actually, the Hadons kilt my Pa!

ruddski
ruddski

It might cause a black hole, but JWP will have to voice his objections from, well, his own black hole at Club Fed.

As for Pooty-Poot, he's just doing for the 60% Ruskie population in Ukraine what Billy-Bob did for Muslims in Serbia and such, none of our damn business, other than Kerry's threats of opprobrium, which violates the nuke treaty, I think.

ruddski
ruddski

@holman

Finally, the training you've received in this venue is showing results. Bravo to your tireless teacher.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ruddski  Constant exposure results in some contamination – Mr. Spock on hanging around humans.

ruddski
ruddski

@holman

Your attribution came too late, pal. And your fear of censure is palpable. What a pussy.

ruddski
ruddski

@bmarv

I sit corrected, I think.

So if Crimea splits off, goes Russian, who really cares? Surely not me. The only real issue is how this all passes the global test.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@holmantx"so do you have a problem with Texas seeking self-determination too?"

Which Texans, holman?

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddski You misread, Ruddski. 

60 percent of the Crimea is ethnically Russian. Multiple sources agree. 

I agree in general on tribal, cultural, linguistic borders. But I think there's an example much, much closer to home. My home, that is.

ruddski
ruddski

@lorlee

First it was the fault of an American-made video which drove the religion of peace to violence, so we jailed the guy on a probe violation charge in the dead of night, with plenty of press coverage to show the Muslims that when it comes to insulting the Prophet (pbuh), we mean business.

When that didn't work, we blamed the dead ambassador.

Now you tell us it was the fault of Republicans, more or less.

Up until now, other than claiming Muslims are so nuts that even an obscure video (or crude cartoon for that matter) will drive them to murder even each other in a frenzy, we've been told that Muslims are the same as any other religion, other than a few nuts. It's so confusing to westerners.

Three points.

1) Terrorism works. Very well.

2) Once Israel is gone, peace will break out.

3) What difference, at this point, does it make?

Lorlee
Lorlee

@holmantx @ruddski  Benghazi -- Very much of an outlier


On June 14, 2002, the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, was attacked. Twelve people were killed. On October 12, 2002, the consular office in Denpasar, Indonesia, was bombed. On February 28, 2003, the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, was attacked (again). Two people were killed. On June 30, 2004, the U.S. embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, was attacked. Two people were killed. On December 6, 2004, a U.S. diplomatic compound in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was attacked. Nine people were killed. On March 2, 2006, the U.S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, was attacked (again). Two people were killed. On September 12, 2006, the U.S. embassy in Damascus, Syria, was attacked. Four people were killed. On January 12, 2007, the U.S. embassy in Athens, Greece, was attacked. On March 18, 2008, the U.S, embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, was attacked. Two people were killed. On July 9, 2008, the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, was attacked. Six people were killed. On September 17, 2008, the U.S. embassy in Sana’a, Yemen, was attacked (again). Sixteen people were killed. All Americans, regardless of political party, blamed those who committed each of these atrocities.

On January 20, 2009, President Obama took office. the Republican congress slashed a half-billion dollars from the State Department’s security budget. On September 11, 2012, the U.S. consulate on Benghazi, Libya, was attacked. Four people were killed. 

So whose fault is it???

ruddski
ruddski

@bmarvel

According to every source I read over the weekend, to get a handle on the issue, sixty percent seems to be the common number for "those who identify as Russian" or "with Russia".

I'm not challenging your claim, I just saw no reference to language, yours is the first.

I suspect that Ukraine, which was apparently a creation of Joey Stalin's somehow, will split just as the former Yugoslavia did.

It seems that, in keeping with my theory of tribal/ethnic preferences determining associations and neighborhoods, borders created by outsiders will eventually crumble away.

Which, of course brings us to Southern California....

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@bmarvel @ruddski  

sounds like Texas.

so do you have a problem with Texas seeking self-determination too?  

Or maybe joining Mexico as one of their states?

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@ruddski "...60% Ruskie population in Ukraine"

Better recheck, Ruddski. 30 percent of Ukrainians speak Russian. Of that 30 percent, a little over half are ethnic Russians. 

ruddski
ruddski

@holman

It's called "leading by the seat of the pants" or something like that.

I don't know who to attribute this to, but someone said "Obama plays checkers while Putin plays three-dimensional chess".

"Four dead in Benghazi". Shouldn't you attribute that to CSN&Y?

As for the administration, their chief security concern is the safety of the West Bank, and we're not talkin' Paris.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ruddski  

One good thing about being leaderless on the international stage, I suppose.  

But petulance only takes you so far in the red line-drawing game.  This administration seems to play some kind of fantasy football brinksmanship in foreign policy where the brutes of reality cannot win, since the losses are imaginary.

Of course, 4 dead in Benghazi was an outlier in this fantasy game.  Or, the fault of the Republicans.

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