Hadron Collider II planned for Circle Line
Thursday 01 April 2010
[ Added at noon on 1 April: Before you read, check the date! ]
London Underground is in talks with the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) about the possibility of using the 23km tunnel of the Circle Line to house a new type of particle accelerator similar to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.
Particle physicists believe the existing tunnel can be adapted to take a small-scale "atom smasher" alongside the passenger line at a fraction of the cost of building a new tunnel elsewhere in Europe. They are understood to have approached London Underground with a view to announcing a feasibility study later this year.
Specialist engineers commissioned by Cern have already produced a preliminary report, seen by The Independent, which proposes installing supercooled magnets and collision detectors at strategic positions on the Circle Line. The main collision experiment will be sited at the newly refurbished Westminster Station, directly below Portcullis House, the offices of more than 200 MPs.
Although there are still considerable technical problems to overcome, such as a geo-magnetic "kink" in the circuitry at Edgware Road station, Cern is quietly confident that it will be able to convince London Underground of the merits of the scheme, which should result in the first air-conditioned underground line as a spin-off of installing supercooled magnets below ground.
The idea was initially mooted in the mid-1980s as an alternative site to the 27km tunnel below Geneva but the idea was dropped. Now, with improvements in technology and miniaturisation of the equipment, Cern believes it can build a successor to the Large Hadron Collider within the Circle line by 2020.
It would mean that two beams of protons would be travelling in clockwise and counterclockwise directions at 99.999999 per cent of the speed of light, within feet of Circle line passengers stuck in perpetual immobility.
However, health and safety advisers to London Underground are understood to be concerned about the proposal, and have raised the prospect of a mini black hole being created at Westminster when the two proton beams collide to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang.
A spokesman for London Underground said the proposal is not as foolish as it first seems: "It has merits."
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
- 3 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 4 Jimmy Carr's Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 5 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery rumours: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Axe wielding man shot dead after attacking four New York policemen on busy street
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...