China is planning to enter the Europe- and US-dominated world of experimental physics with (wait for it …) a bang. It has formally announced that it will begin the first phase of construction of an enormous particle accelerator around 2020, which will be twice the size and seven times more powerful than CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
Europe's LHC is the largest single machine in the world, a huge circular tunnel 17 miles (27 km) in circumference. But China's planned Circular Electron Positron Collider (CEPC) could (almost) literally run rings around it – it will be between 30 and 62 miles in circumference, large enough to circle Manhattan.
Wang Yifang, director of the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, has suggested Qinhuangdao, a northern port city near the start of the Great Wall, as an ideal location for the underground facility.
The plan is for the tunnel to house two different super colliders. The first phase project will be the CEPC, designed to study the Higgs boson particle and how it decays following a collision. Super colliders smash atomic particles together at velocities close to the speed of light, to try to recreate the conditions that followed the Big Bang. China's super collider will get closer to these conditions than ever before.