An anonymous reader writes: As things stand, the known elementary particles, codified in a 40-year-old set of equations called the “Standard Model,” lack a sensible pattern and seem astonishingly fine-tuned for life. Arkani-Hamed and other particle physicists, guided by their belief in naturalness, have spent decades devising clever ways to fit the Standard Model into a larger, natural pattern. But time and again, ever-more-powerful particle colliders have failed to turn up proof of their proposals in the form of new particles and phenomena, increasingly pointing toward the bleak and radical prospect that naturalness is dead.
Still, many physicists, Arkani-Hamed chief among them, seek a more definitive answer. And right now, his quest to answer the naturalness question leads through China. Two years ago, he agreed to become the inaugural director of the new Center for Future High Energy Physics in Beijing. He has since visited China 18 times, campaigning for the construction of a machine of unprecedented scale: a circular particle collider up to 60 miles in circumference, or nearly four times as big around as Europe’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Nicknamed the “Great Collider,” and estimated to cost roughly $10 billion over 30 years, it would succeed the LHC as the new center of the physics universe. According to Arkani-Hamed and those who agree with him, this 100-trillion-electron-volt (TeV) collider would slam subatomic particles together hard enough to either find the particles that the LHC could not muster or rule them out, rescuing or killing the naturalness principle and propelling physicists toward one of two radically different pictures: that of a knowable universe, or an unknowable multiverse.
The Chinese collider campaign has the support and involvement of many prominent researchers aside from Arkani-Hamed, including Yifang Wang, the Nobel Prize winner David Gross, and the Fields medalist S.T. Yau, as well as legions of experimentalists and engineers working behind the scenes, yet the project is controversial. Experts disagree about what the machine would achieve. They also wonder if China is ready to take the helm in particle physics, questioning whether its small particle physics community can grow quickly enough over the next two decades to run a project so enormous and complex, even with the help of thousands of physicists in Europe and the United States. As Tao Han, a particle physicist who supports the campaign, expressed the concerns of some of his Chinese colleagues, “Are we going to jump too far and fall hard?”
Now it is decision time. The Chinese government will release its five-year budgetary plan by the end of the year, revealing whether it plans to invest in research and development for the collider project.Link to Original Source