Progress on CERN’s next major particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), took another step forward recently when French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin signed the decree allowing LHC civil engineering work to commence on French territory. This important landmark comes after a long and painstaking study of the environmental impact of the project and follows approval of civil engineering on Swiss territory earlier this year ) where work is already underway.
The LHC collider, scheduled to begin operations in 2005, will be constructed in the 27 kilometre tunnel under the Franco-Swiss frontier, which currently houses CERN’s LEP electronpositron collider.
LHC civil engineering contracts are being awarded in three separate packages. Excluded from these packages is one of the tunnels which will supply the LHC with protons from CERN’s Super Proton Synchrotron accelerator. This tunnel is being built by Switzerland as part of its special host-state contribution to the LHC.
While awaiting the French green light, a collaboration between CERN and the regional directorate for cultural affairs has allowed archaeologists to undertake preliminary excavations at a Roman site adjacent to one of the LHC’s experimental areas. Their findings have pieced together a fascinating picture of life in the area some 1700 years ago. A report will feature in a forthcoming issue.