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The discovery of the Higgs particle at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) over half a decade ago marked a milestone in the long journey towards understanding the deeper structure of matter. Today, particle physics strives to push a diverse range of experimental approaches from which we may glean new answers to fundamental questions regarding the creation of the universe and the nature of the mysterious and elusive dark matter.

Such an endeavor requires a post-LHC particle collider with an energy capability significantly greater than that of previous colliders. This is how the idea for the Future Circular Collider (FCC) at CERN came to be—a machine that could put the exploration of new physics in high gear. To understand the validity of this proposal, we should, however, start at the beginning and once more ask ourselves: “How does physics progress?”

Many believe that grand revolutions are driven exclusively by new theories, whereas experiments play the parts of movie extras. The played-out story goes a little something like this: theorists form conjectures, and experiments are used solely for the purposes of testing them. After all, most of us proclaim our admiration for Einstein’s relativity or for quantum mechanics, but seldom do we pause and consider whether these awe-inspiring theories could have been attained without the contributions of the Michelson-Morley, Stern-Gerlach or black-body–radiation experiments.

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Category: Science