HomeFeatured InterviewThe International Linear Collider: The Next Step in Understanding Our Universe

The International Linear Collider: The Next Step in Understanding Our Universe

Lyn Evans, CERN physicist. Lyn Evans (born 1945) is a Welsh physicist who became one of the leaders of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory. At left is part of the ring in which particles are accelerated to near the speed of light and then collided in detectors. Experiments carried out at the LHC intended to discover the Higgs boson led to the announcement of the discovery of a Higgs-like particle in 2012. Evans and other CERN physicists have received awards in recognition of this work, including the Fundamental Physics Prize in 2012. Photographed in 2008.

An Interview with Lyn Evans, who led the project to build CERN and is now the Director of the International Linear Collider Collaboration

A new era of discovery in particle physics opened in November 2009 with the start-up of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. Based on experiments and discoveries over the last decades, physicists believe that the Terascale will yield evidence for entirely new forms of matters, and possibly even extra dimensions of space. This new matter includes the Higgs particle, as well as the possibility of an extended family of elementary ‘superparticles’, the heavier cousins of the particles we already know. Lyn Evans joined CERN at 24 and after 40 years with CERN, he is now the Director of Linear Collider Collaboration and on brink of announcing the next generation Higgs Factory, the International Linear Collider Project proposed to be built in Japan as a world-wide collaboration to discover new physics.

“The idea of an International Linear Collider is not a new one,” explains Lyn Evans, who has been a champion of this project for many years. In March, 2013, Lyn Evans paid a courtesy visit to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Prime Minister acknowledged the significance of the linear collider project for the whole of humankind. Given that it is an international project, he said he needed to monitor the development closely and would continue to investigate the role of Japan.

While physicists agree that The International Linear Collider is essential for the next step in understanding our universe, Japan has been studying the idea for years. Recently, at the ILC technology development symposium held in Tokyo June 25, 2018, Lyn Evans stressed that, “Accelerator technology continued to develop thanks to accelerator research facilities brought online in the US, Europe, and China. This means we are in a good place to develop momentum to get [international] cooperation for the ILC.” Next year, the board of directors at CERN will begin deliberations on the next 5-year strategy for particle physics in Europe, so “this is a very crucial period. The Japanese government must make their intentions clear.”

“The idea of an International Linear Collider is not a new one,” explains Lyn Evans, who has been a champion of this project for many years. In March, 2013, Lyn Evans paid a courtesy visit to Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Prime Minister acknowledged the significance of the linear collider project for the whole of humankind. Given that it is an international project, he said he needed to monitor the development closely and would continue to investigate the role of Japan. 

With this deadline approaching, things are speeding up. It is very natural for this accelerator to be cited in Japan. In the 1930’s Japan took an early lead in particle physics and in recent decades they have continued to be important players in experimental physics.

Based on recent exciting news from the Governors Meeting in Japan, Evan’s dream may soon become a reality. “It is a great time for Japan to take a leading role in Linear Collider technology. The whole world will benefit from the data it will produce,” stressed Evans.


Japan Governors Agree to Push for the Realization of the ILC

On October 31st, 2018, the meeting for the governors of Hokkaido and the Tohoku region was held in Kaminoyama City, Yamagata Prefecture where a resolution was unanimously passed to push for the realization of the ILC, which is the first time this meeting has passed a resolution solely focused on the ILC The resolution calls for the national government to make their stance clear on investment in the ILC and other international cost-sharing measures as soon as possible. Governor Tasso said, “It’s a crucial time right now, as we have to get the ILC into Europe’s next 5 year plan for particle physics. Those preparations begin in January 2019.” Governor Tasso said, “It’s extremely significant that we passed a resolution solely about the ILC. We will call upon all of the governors and related organizations in Tohoku to encourage the national government to make a decision as quickly as possible.”

 Kicking things off in Tokyo, in 2013, Linear Collider Board Director Sachio Komamiya hands over the ILC Technical Design Report to Lyn Evans, Linear Collider Collaboration director.

What is the International Linear Collider?

The International Linear Collider will give physicists a new cosmic doorway to explore energy regimes beyond the reach of today’s accelerators. A proposed electron-positron collider, the ILC will complement the Large Hadron Collider, a proton-proton collider at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, together unlocking some of the deepest mysteries in the universe. With LHC discoveries pointing the way, the ILC – a true precision machine – will provide the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Consisting of two linear accelerators that face each other, the ILC will hurl some 10 billion electrons and their anti-particles, positrons, toward each other at nearly the speed of light. Superconducting accelerator cavities operating at temperatures near absolute zero give the particles more and more energy until they smash in a blazing crossfire at the centre of the machine. Stretching approximately 31 kilometres in length, the beams collide 14,000 times every second at extremely high energies – 500 billion-electron-volts (GeV). Each spectacular collision creates an array of new particles that could answer some of the most fundamental questions of all time. The current baseline design allows for an upgrade to a 50-kilometres, 1 trillion-electron-volt (TeV) machine during the second stage of the project. There are also plans for a staged approach starting with a 250-GeV Higgs factory to study the properties of the particle discovered at the LHC in 2012 and then upgrading to 500 GeV.

This century, while physicists have discovered more than ever before, at the nanoscale, they can still not fully explain the origin of mass
and can only account for a surprising five percent of the universe. The remaining 95 percent, the mysterious dark matter and dark energy is what the proposed International Linear Collider could explain. Not to exclude the potential of new forms of matter, new forces of nature, new dimensions of space and time and even extra dimensions.

“The huge mystery now is that we only understand about 5% of our universe. My greatest wish before I die is to get a hint of what dark matter is.”

Lyn Evans led the project to build CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) from its inception in 1994 until start-up on 10 September 2008. The LHC, which is the world’s highest energy particle accelerator, is the Organization’s latest flagship research facility. It is poised to provide new insights into the mysteries of our universe. Nations from around the globe have contributed to the construction of the accelerator and its experiments.

China Electron Positron Collider (CEPC) – Plans Well Underway

China’s plans to build a huge underground ‘Higgs factory called the China Electron Positron Collider that will be a successor to the Beijing Electron Positron Collider at the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing, which is expected to shut down in 2020. Plans are well underway with a conceptual design report for the China Electron Positron Collider that calls for a 100 km underground tunnel that would smash together electrons and positrons at energies of 240 GeV. If built, this will be the largest electron-positron collider with a circumference of 100 km with a precision down to 1%, allowing scientists to probe into new physics.

Does the world need two Higgs Factories?

“The world could accommodate two Higgs factories,” states Yifang Wang, director of China’s Institute of High Energy Physics in an interview with Physics World. The ILC can only host one detector at any given time. We think that the world needs at least two detectors. So, in principle, we could have two Higgs factories and a minimum of two detectors, maybe three. It very much depends on future support from the international community and the respective governments. By the end of this year the Japanese government is expected to decide about the ILC. I think it’s not too late for us to then decide afterwards to go ahead with the CEPC.”

Exciting Developments at CERN

On June 4, 2018, CERN released new results from the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the LHC revealing how strongly the Higgs boson interacts with the heaviest known elementary particle, the top quark, corroborating our understanding of the Higgs and setting constraints on new physics. The Higgs boson interacts only with massive particles, yet it was discovered in its decay to two massless photons. Quantum mechanics allows the Higgs to fluctuate for a very short time into a top quark and a top anti-quark, which promptly annihilate each other into a photon pair. These results tell scientists more about the properties of the Higgs boson and give clues for where to look for new physics.


“The superb performance of the LHC and the improved experimental tools in mastering this complex analysis led to this beautiful result. It also shows that we are on the right track with our plans for the High-Luminosity LHC and the physics results it promises.” CERN Director for Research and Computing Eckhard Elsen



The International Linear Collider (ILC) is a gigantic new accelerator to study the mysteries of the universe. In 2012, one of the elementary particles known as the Higgs boson was discovered at CERN. For about 5 years, led by Dr. Lyn Evans, Japan has been encouraged to host the next large accelerator which will be a Higgs factory, where many exciting discoveries in Physics can be realized.


The Japanese high-energy physics community’s recommendation: If the 19-mile-long, next-generation particle collider is built in Japan, it should be located in the Kitakami mountains of the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures. The ILC will create an international hub of science, technology and innovation in the area, and an “international science city”.


2018 International Workshop on Future Linear Colliders Held in Texas in October- Strong Support for ILC from Japan and International Coalition of Scientists

The 2018 International Workshop on Future Linear Colliders (LCWS18) was hosted by the University of Texas at Arlington on Oct. 22-26, 2018, where scientists from all over the world gathered together with a firm determination to make the ILC a reality. Photo Credit: UTA College of Science

Hosted by University of Texas Arlington, the International Workshop on Future Linear Colliders held Oct. 22-26, brought together enthusiastic supporters that form an international foundation for the advancing project. Scientists attending the workshop, issued a strong conviction to give unbridled support to the ILC with a written “Texas Statement”, which says in part, “Together with colleagues around the world, we hereby issue this ‘Texas Statement’ with unshakable conviction on its scientific case and to express our strong commitment to do whatever necessary for its success. The international community represented by the participants of LCWS2018 is committed to bring the ILC to its fruition. Once the expression of intention to host the ILC is issued by the Japanese government, we will greatly expand our own efforts and work with our respective governments ever more intensively to help achieve the necessary international agreements. We eagerly await the signal to proceed and, when the ILC starts in earnest, we will be ready to carry through on its promise.”

In tandem, the support offered from Japan to be the host of the ILC promised a swift

outcome. In a video address at the workshop by the Honorable Shintaro Ito, Member of the House of Representatives of Japan, he declares that the “ILA is an international project that has no boundaries, and it is open to personnel from all over the world.” And he further adds, “Japan will be proud to host such a project. It will produce the science and technology to create a better world.”

Adding that he believes it is the time for Japan to stand up and lead the ILC project, he presented the many meetings and discussions leading up to the workshop including the creation just last month by the Liberal Democratic Party of a new organization, called the Liaison Committee for Realizing the ILC which brings together various strategic groups involved in making important policies, such as science technology and innovation, regional revitalization, reconstruction from natural disasters, and national resilience. The Liaison Committee formulated their strategy to realize the ILC, by integrating the ILC project across various important policies for Japan and is working with Party members, and the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, so that the Expression of Interest can be delivered in time.

Honorable Shintaro Ito also discussed international funding and several meetings including in France and Germany and on October 10th, a very positive meeting with Under Secretary for Science of DOE in the US who said, “If the Japanese government decides to go forward with the ILC, the DOE will find it very positive, and they will participate and contribute to the project management and technology aspects. He also said, he looks forward to engaging with members of Congress, governmental figures, and others in Washington to get support for the ILC project.”

Honorable Shintaro Ito closed his statement by saying,” I sincerely believe we will be able to realize it together.”

Lyn Evans and scientists across the globe await the opportunity to pursue new physics together when the program gets underway. The global coalition said in their Texas Statement, “Global collaboration has made enormous progress in the development of the superconducting acceleration technology, improving its performance by quantum leaps. More innovations broadly benefitting science are in store as we proceed along our path.”


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