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Japan shows interest in hosting the ILC

By Michael Banks

Since the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded this week to three Japanese-born researchers, it seems like Japan has gone particle-physics crazy, or at least the Japanese government has.

So much so that Japan now wants to host the next big experiment in particle physics – the International Linear Collider (ILC). The ILC is the successor to the $8bn proton smasher the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva that switched on, and then off, following a magnet failure almost a month ago.

According to a design study unveiled in early 2007, the machine is estimated to cost $8bn with the host country expected to pay $1.8bn – around 22% of the total cost – to dig the 40 km tunnel and supply electricity and water. When operational, the ILC will smash together electrons and its anti-particle twin, positrons, as they are accelerated to near the speed of light.

After the Nobel Prize was announced on Tuesday, a Japanese government spokesman said they will use the prize as “a tailwind” to advance its involvement with physics research. This comes as good news to particle physicists who saw the US cut its funding for the ILC last year by 75% to $15m, and with the UK now only carrying out basic research into the project following a funding crisis at one of its main research councils.

Indeed, the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) – set up by the US Department
of Energy last year to plan the next decade in high-energy physics – published a report in June saying the US should have “a significant role in the ILC wherever it is built”, but stopped short of saying that it should be constructed in the US.

“If the Japanese do make such a strong bid, I think it is highly unlikely to be opposed by the US, although it might catalyse other interest, potentially China or Russia,” says particle physicist Brian Foster from Oxford University. “However, I think the Japanese would be in a very strong position and, after ITER, in some sense they are ‘owed’ the next major international project.”

So maybe the time is right for Japan to stake its claim.

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  1. andreicio

    Sounds like a good idea. The Japanese are far less likely to mismanage the project LHC style. If hosted in Japan, it might actually start on time and actually work – unlike the LHC. With regards to the ILC . . . anywhere but in Europe.

  2. usman

    Typical Japanese nationalism.

  3. Ender

    Actually the US has no better record in these kind of projects than Europe, and it’s quite understandable when you go to “extreme engineering” projects, where there are so many uncertainties that only arise when you actually build the machines. Let’s not forget about the Space Shuttle (fiasco?), which was never what it meant to be (remember the one launch per month goal?), and the manned space programme in general. It now turns out that by January 2011 the US won’t have the capability to send men to space for years, and has fallen behind China.

  4. andreicio

    I don’t buy this “extreme engineering” excuse. Every part in these projects is designed by engineers. There should be very little or no unpredictable unknowns. If there are, they do sloppy job. That may be true of the spaceshuttle. It is more than obvious with the LHC. At least the space shuttle actually works. With the LHC things look very grim. If one burned lead caused that helium explosion, imagine the statistical probablility of something simmilar happening again what with the thousands of other components that may have been designed or installed improperly.
    Sometimes it is good to start from scratch. They should scrap the LHC and give the funds for the ILC. And give them to someone that can actually handle to job. Like the Japanese. Not some whiny europeans who keep complaining that hte job is too complex and too hard to do properly.

  5. Sometimes it is good to start from scratch. They should scrap the LHC and give the funds for the ILC.
    Results from the LHC are needed in order to decide what the ILC will look like.
    You can’t just skip steps and still make rational decisions as to where to look for the next precision measurement…

  6. andreicio

    Why is that exactly? The LEP was an electron positron collider just like the ILC. The LEP was expeted to find the Higgs if the energy was sufficient. You guys should stop making these abstract statements with out a factual basis.

  7. Ender

    Finding the Higgs isn’t the only mission of LHC. Furthermore, many people would actually like the Higgs not ot exist (I think it was Glashow who once called the Higgs a toilet necessary, but nothing to feel proud of), which would force to seek alternative theories. One of the missions of the LHC is to study quark-gluon plasmas, for which you need hadrons, not leptons.
    I don’t care whatever you buy, you may go buy a Big Mac, but you just make a fool of yourself with your silly comments.

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