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Large Hadron Collider? Been there, done that!

Published time: October 14, 2008 09:11
Edited time: October 14, 2008 09:11
Got the T-shirt!

Got the T-shirt!

“Everything you discover, I discovered ten years ago”. This appears to be the tacit catchphrase of modern Russian science. Leading Russian physicists from Protvino, a town in the Moscow region, now claim that if their pr

Beneath Protvino, a town which now numbers roughly 37,000 residents, there lie 21 kilometres of tunnels. They were built in the 80s for the RosAtom Institute for High Energy Physics, which was planning to launch a particle collider. If finalised, it would have matched the LHC in capacity, but would be 15 years its senior.

Vladimir Kremlev for RT
Vladimir Kremlev for RT

However, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, construction was halted and the complicated underground system now stands unused.

“We cannot bury the tunnel for ecological reasons. There is a city above it and subterranean waters could come out. It is 60 metres underground and we constantly have to simply sustain it by pumping the water out and making repairs,” said Viktor Savin, the coordinator of Russia’s team in the LHC project, in an interview with Ria Novosti.

The town of Protvino was originally just a small scientific settlement, attached to an innovative complex of physic laboratories. It was built in the 60s, with its location specifically chosen for being in the least seismically-active zone possible, making it favourable for the construction of the collider.

Now, 80 million roubles are spent yearly on the tunnel’s maintenance. The institute’s governing body cautiously suggests that if the tunnel is not used as a collider, it could be adapted and used to facilitate the research of cosmic rays.

Protvino is also renowned for a number of landmark scientific breakthroughs. Anti-helium, an experimentally-constructed case of anti-matter, was discovered in this scientific settlement. In 1967, the RosAtom Institute launched a proton collider in Protvino, which was the largest in the world at the time.