By Michael Banks
Since the Nobel
Prize for Physics was awarded this week to three Japanese-born researchers, it
least the Japanese government has.
So much so that
in particle physics — the International Linear Collider (ILC). The ILC is the
successor to the $8bn proton smasher the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near
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
the project following a funding crisis at one of its main research councils.
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