London train tunnel to house 'atom smasher'
Published 01/04/2010 | 05:00
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, 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. Although there are still considerable technical problems to overcome, Cern is quietly confident it will be able to convince London Underground of the merits of the scheme.
But health and safety advisers are understood to have raised the prospect of a mini black hole being created at Westminster when two proton beams collide to recreate the conditions of the Big Bang.(© Independent News Service)