The impasse around the International Linear Collider may have an unexpectedly elegant solution – the International Oblong Collider, located in the Kuril Islands. Such a scheme would be a compromise, both scientifically, financially and even politically. Work on the development of elementary particle physics in this region, in Kamchatka, has already started.
We have repeatedly written about the stalemate around the ILC International Linear Collider project. It should be implemented in Japan, but the position of the Japanese government remained very vague for a long time, and only at the beginning of March did Japan say at least something definite. In a statement, the Japanese government made it clear that Japan is not ready to build a linear collider, but wants to be closely involved in future work on this or other similar project.
In turn, the scientific community, on behalf of which the International Committee for Future Accelerators ICFA spoke in March, also expressed itself quite clearly: too much effort and money was invested in this project and too many scientific hopes were associated with it to just give it up. … Of course, there is also an alternative way – cyclic electron-positron colliders, in particular, the Chinese CEPC and Zernov’s FCC-ee.
However, their implementation requires much more time: it will take many years for one hundred-kilometer tunnel alone. Moreover, these projects are not scalable in terms of energy, and Japan’s involvement in them is much less. In general, this is not how Japan sees its role in the development of accelerator particle physics.
There is a situation in which the decision is determined by several conflicting factors. Building a collider in Japan is too expensive, and participating in construction somewhere far away is not so prestigious. But if he is somewhere close by – that’s it. If the linear collider were a truly Japanese project, then in the cyclical one Japan will participate only as one of many minor participants. A linear collider could start standing now, while a cyclical one takes time.
An elegant way out of this impasse may be the most compromise option – International oblong colliderlocated in an equally elongated area near Japan. The oblong nature of the collider will incorporate the strongest aspects of both particle acceleration schemes – linear and cyclic. There have not been such projects yet, and Japan can become a pioneer here. It is possible to build such a collider right now, and in terms of the cost of passing the tunnel, it will be closer to a linear one than to a cyclic collider of the same size.
Finally – and here is the second highlight! – there is already a site ideal for the construction of the International Elongated Collider. These are the Kuril Islands, located under the nose of Japan (Fig. 2). Their size (Kunashir Island is elongated by about 120 km, and Iturup Island – by 200 km) and their oblong shape will allow not only realizing such a collider, but also making it scalable, increasing it along the selected island as needed. The controversial nature of the territories will also contribute to the implementation of an international scientific project of this scale. On the one hand, this is not officially Japan at all, but very close, so that Japan can make a significant financial contribution with minimal logistics costs. On the other hand, this will be a step towards the joint development of the Kuril Islands by Russia and Japan, and in that peaceful course that will find lively approval from the world community. In Yuzhno-Kurilsk, on the basis of the International Oblong Collider, a mega-scale scientific laboratory will be formed – the World Kuril Center for Physics of the Microworld, a kind of Pacific analogue of CERN, a new point of growth and development of Russia.
Of course, this idea is still far from being realized. To begin with, physicists and technicians must bring it to the stage of a technical project, then it must be supported by the world scientific community and approved by the governments of the Russian Federation and Japan. But some movement in this direction has already begun. This year, Kamchatka will start a vigorous activity to develop the physics of elementary particles in this region. Thus, the first Kamchatka school on particle physics and related topics, which will take place in September and which is organized by the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in cooperation with Kamchatka partners, is already accepting applications for participation from everyone.
It is possible that in the coming years we will witness how the future of elementary particle physics will begin to take on an oblong shape.