The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, is an intergovernmental organization that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world.
Now, officials at CERN (home to the famous Large Hadron Collider near Geneva) are pressing ahead with plans for a new machine that would be at least three times bigger than the existing particle accelerator.
The Large Hadron Collider, a 27km (17 mile) circular subterranean structure in the Swiss-French countryside, smashes together protons and other subatomic particles at close to the speed of light to recreate the conditions that existed fractions of a second after the big bang. The machine, the world’s largest collider, discovered the Higgs boson in 2012.
However, since the discovery of the Higgs boson, no significant new physics - that would shed light on some of the deepest mysteries of the universe - has been accomplished. So, scientists at CERN reckon they need a new toy and have drawn up plans for their next machine, known as the Future Circular Collider (FCC).
The €20bn ($21.5bn) device would have a 90-100km (56 - 62 mile) circumference and thereby be able to smash subatomic particles together at a force 7 times more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider.
Unsurprisingly, at such an enormous price tag, the plan has its critics. But, if the FCC is given the green light, it would be built in two stages. The first experiments would smash electrons together while the second phase, earmarked for the 2070s, would slam protons into one another. And, because of the extra radiation generated by the machine, it would need to sit twice as far underground as the Large Hadron Collider.
Time will tell.