reply to post by john124
It is indeed conceivable that within our lifetimes we may see a space-based particle accelerator. It really makes sense.
While the construction of such a monstrosity is well beyond our capabilities today, it is certainly possible within the next 50-70 years. If the
scientific discoveries with the LHC are even half as fruitful as the long-running Fermilab tevatron (and before that 'main ring'), there is no
question that particle accelerators will continue to be designed, and funded/constructed.
Presumably 20 years from now, the LHC will be old and 'ready for retirement', at which point the next step will be considered. By then, China will
be a much larger player than they already are on the world stage, and Russia will likely be even more of a player as well. Those two nations alone
have vast amounts of land that would be ideally suited for the next generation of particle accelerators.
20-30 years of such an accelerator running, the next logical step is accelerators in space. There are unique challenges to such an endeavor, however
the scientific potential for something of this magnitude is astronomical (no pun intended). The environment of space is vastly different than a 20
feet below the earth's surface, as such the type of research that can be done with something like this would be tremendous.
There is also the added benefit of safety. Should a particle accelerator run into that "worse case scenario", it would be much more beneficial for
said accelerator to be far from earth, perhaps near the orbit of Venus. As our technology grows, it is well within reason for components for a
particle accelerator such as this to be built on earth, and later sent up as payloads aboard robotic-based crafts. In theory such a device could be
assembled in space without a single human going near it. Once assembled, should the worse occur (massive explosion/implosion), the risk to earth
Of course, a doomsday scenario where it creates a 'valid' black hole would eventually consume our entire solar system, sadly starting with the Sun
due to gravitational pull, but the odds of such an event are remote, with the LHC now, and with any future accelerator.
Funding is fueled by the profitability of the science that is achieved through predecessors to such a device. If the LHC yields good science that
leads to advancement in human technology and understanding, that in turn translates into profitability for governments and corporations that make use
of that science, who in turn fund future endeavors that may yield even better science.
If the LHC is a bust, and we learn nothing significant beyond what older particle accelerators have been able to teach us, then of course funding
would never occur for something like this.