Cern wins US jackpot

August 8, 1997

Hundreds of millions of dollars for the world's largest particle-smashing experiment is set to pour into Europe from the United States after months of uncertainty.

According to Cern in Geneva, where the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is being built, US funding for the project for the coming year and a longer term agreement with the US - which is believed to involve more than $500 million - has been approved by Congress. The approval, which will involve $35 million in the first year, comes after months of wrangling in the House of Representatives.

The funding, which will enable the LHC to be built quickly, must await congressional budget clarification to iron out a $5 million discrepancy, thought to be unrelated to the LHC debate. But a Cern spokesman said the organisation was now 99 per cent certain the US contribution would go ahead.

It means Cern will be the leading global particle physics centre, said David Saxon, Kelvin professor of physics at Glasgow University.

The LHC, which has already received funds from Japan, Canada, Russia and India, is also being paid for by Cern's 19 member states which last year negotiated a reduction in their annual Cern subscriptions while protecting the LHC.

The LHC, which will be used by hundreds of British scientists, is a massive accelerator which collides oncoming beams of protons travelling close to the speed of light. Physicists hope to be able to show the existence of the Higgs boson, a theoretical particle which is a crucial part of describing the fundamental properties of matter.

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