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Kuiper Belt Loop

Ring around the solar system
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Just the other day I read something about how, if the Large Hadron Collider doesn't find any new particles that could be associated with Dark Matter or Dark Energy (see link), then the existing theories indicate that the next-size particle accelerator, needed to discover something, would need to be larger-diameter than the entire Earth.

Now, as it happens, I have elsewhere described building a large orbiting particle accelerator (also known as an "atom smasher"; see link), but what if that isn't big enough, either? Therefore we need to start planning now, for something that MIGHT be big enough!

I propose we build a particle-accelerator ring all the way around the Solar System, in the Kuiper Belt, perhaps twice as far from the Sun as Neptune orbits. That would make the ring about 18 billion kilometers in diameter. For dynamic stability, we want the ring to be in orbit around the Sun, of course. Any particles travelling near the speed of light (almost 300,000 km/sec) will take more than 52 hours to go all the way around this ring.

The curvature of the ring will be so slight that we almost don't need superconducting magnets to force the particles to follow the curve of the ring --but out there, so far from the Sun, everything is so cold that it is easy for things to be superconductive!

It should be obvious that such a large-scale project needs a lot of preparation work. Equally obviously, the sooner we start planning all the nitty-gritty details, the sooner particle physicists will be able to play with their new toy.

Vernon, Sep 13 2015

Looming problem https://medium.com/...hysics-bf69355df75f
As mentioned in the main text. [Vernon, Sep 13 2015]

Larger-than-Earth particle accelerator Earth-Space_20Web
As mentioned in the main text. The linked Idea describes a whole series of rings around the Earth, and the atom smasher is put on the biggest/last one. [Vernon, Sep 13 2015]

About the Kuiper belt http://www2.ess.ucla.edu/~jewitt/kb.html
This indicates that "twice Neptune's distance from the sun" might actually be outside the belt. So? Bigger is still better! [Vernon, Sep 13 2015]


       //The curvature of the ring will be so slight that we almost don't need superconducting magnets to force the particles to follow the curve of the ring//   


       so why can't the current size work ?
FlyingToaster, Sep 13 2015

       We will only be able to construct a truly large Collider when we understand how to bend space without using cumbersome masses; once we figure that out, the whole multi-light- year-long loop can be fitted inside a matchbox.   

       Ironically, the necessary space-bending knowledge will come from studies done on this multi- lightyear-long, matchbox-sized collider.   

       Fortunately, the same knowledge will allow us to bend time, thereby constructing the collider before we know how to do so.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 13 2015

       You need to read "Ring World" by Larry Niven..
Steamboat, Sep 13 2015

       [Steamboat], I read about the Ringworld decades ago. that is not needed for this Idea --and anyway, a Ringworld is only Earth-orbit-circumference (or so), and we can do LOTS bigger (a Kuiper Belt loop). Note that, conveniently, the Kuiper Belt (and the not-so-much-farther-away Oort Cloud; see link) is full of raw materials that could be used to make the thing.   

       Also, of course, there is lots and lots of hard vacuum out there, great for keeping the main accelerator tube empty of unwanted gas-atoms and other particles.
Vernon, Sep 14 2015

       Great! This idea elegantly solves problems that made the CERN collider so problematic:   

       Need to keep things super cool? Move them a long way away from a heat source.   

       Need to bend a path ever so slightly? The curvature on such a large radius is naturally ever so slight, and the sun's gravity is on your side when it comes to pulling particles ever so slightly in towards the inside of the curve.   

       Need a near-light-speed particle to travel for a measurable period of time? That circumference will do it.   

       There are a couple of unresolved aspects though:   

       The actual design and construction of the collider components.   

       Getting the components out that far.   

       Finding enough raw materials for a construction that immense.   

       Here's my two penn'orth:   

       Build a generic factory equipped with 3d printer(s) and launch it now, while we work out the collider design. By the time it gets into position in the Kuiper belt we'll have worked out the design for the collider and we can transmit the designs for the factory to build while it's there.   

       By the time it gets there we should also have worked out how to transform dark matter into matter so we can just extract as much material as we need from out of nowhere, saving us the task of transporting it all that distance.
Tulaine, Sep 14 2015

       //worked out how to transform dark matter into matter// Hammerite do a very good gloss white.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 14 2015

       [Bigs], you are so right, except for the stuff you just said.   

       By and large, the statistical support for things is pretty solid before they formally announce. And it's rock solid for anything before that.   

       What's _really_ worrying is What It All Means. Basically, if an equation can be made, its predictions are always fulfilled, which is a bit spooky. Either it means that we bring physics into existence through equations, or there's an even deeper link between mathematics and physical reality than people appreciate.   

       What nobody has yet really addressed is the question of the computational power of space itself. So far, it appears to be unlimited, unless you take the view that quantum weirdness is down to space not being able to keep up with the maths.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 14 2015

       Keeping track of all of those digits of pi for all of those circles spinning around does take a lot cpu time, you know.
RayfordSteele, Sep 14 2015

       //I wasn't convinced.// Well, that's that for modern physics, then.   

       //a programmer out there// it's a distinct possibility. If we assume that any intelligence will eventually evolve to the point where it can create simulated intelligences in a simulated universe; and if we further assume that it can do this many times over; then the logical conclusion is that we are many times more likely to be simulated than not.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 14 2015

       So, as for logistics...
The Oort cloud contains massive amounts of Hydrogen. Liquid Hydrogen is superconductive in certain conditions, so obviously we just need to collect and stretch out a micro-thin Hydrogen river, which we'll keep coherent using...
... um... an almost infinite series of electromagnetic geon vortex rings... yeah that's the ticket, no Wait!, scratch that... one absolutely Ginormous electromagnetic vortex ring with the river of Hydrogen suspended within it.


       There is another advantage to having a very large ring, that wasn't mentioned in the main text. That is, if it takes more than 50 hours for a batch of particles to circle the ring, it would be very easy to have many batches of particles circling simultaneously, say 1 second apart --or even more frequently. Our puny Earth-bound accelerators are far to small to allow much in the way of that feature!   

       In a way, having multiple batches of circling particles is necessary, since on Earth one batch passes a given interaction zone many times per second. It may actually be a plus, giving detector equipment some time to reset between batches of particles passing through them.
Vernon, Sep 14 2015

       // The quantum physicists are just guessing though. //   

       Yes, but they're right.   

       And they're wrong at the same time.
Tulaine, Sep 15 2015


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