GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Scientists at Europe's particle physics laboratory CERN say they're considering a successor to the world's largest, most powerful and expensive atom smasher.
The next-generation particle accelerator would be four times the size of CERN's current Large Hadron Collider, USA Today reported Wednesday.
The LHC was built in a circular, 15-mile underground tunnel under the Swiss/French border near Geneva at a cost of $5.6 billion. The proposed new atom smasher would live in a similar underground home, but this one would be 40 to 55 miles in circumference.
"Particle physics takes the long-term view," a CERN statement said. "Even though the LHC program is already well defined for the next two decades, the time has come to look even further ahead."
CERN has started a five-year exploratory study called the Future Circular Colliders Program focusing on the next-generation circular collider.
"We need to sow the seeds of tomorrow's technologies today, so that we are ready to take decisions in a few years' time," Frederick Bordry, CERN's director for accelerators and technology, said in a statement.