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Thread: Will the Moon's surface be used to build a particle accelerato, one day?

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    Will the Moon's surface be used to build a particle accelerato, one day?

    Just reading about the plans for a 100km wide particle accelerator, in Europe.

    Would that be a good way to build a particle accelerator, right around a great circle, assuming humans have a decent presence on the Moon?
    Last edited by WaxRubiks; 2019-Jan-18 at 01:31 PM.
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    Whatís the advantage of building a particle accelerator on the moon, regardless of human occupation?


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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    What’s the advantage of building a particle accelerator on the moon, regardless of human occupation?


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    well, less tunnelling for one thing...not sure what else.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WaxRubiks View Post
    well, less tunnelling for one thing...not sure what else.
    Why would there be less tunneling? I don't think you want to put it on the surface; for one thing, I would think you would want it underground so as to protect the detectors from things like meteorites and cosmic radiation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    Why would there be less tunneling? I don't think you want to put it on the surface; for one thing, I would think you would want it underground so as to protect the detectors from things like meteorites and cosmic radiation.

    yes the detector part could be underground, but the accelerator part could mainly be on the surface....with a slight incline down towards the detector, or you could build a hill over the detector.
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    100km would encircle the island of Maui. Wouldn't this be better, cheaper, faster, funner?
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    The main reason that big facilities like that are built underground is because of the difficulty in finding cheap land in places that are accessible to the people who work eight the facilities. On one count the moon would be great. Land is cheap, so you could just build the machine on the surface and dump dust on it for shielding. I think there is less seismology than on earth, which would be a bonus. On the other hand, accessibility is sub-optimum... the current LHC uses more than 100 megawatts of electricity, so getting a power plant there will be a feat.


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    And the moon is by no means flat on the 100km scale. (Or on the 10km, 1km, 100m or 10m scales relevant to the project.)
    Bridges or tunnels, you just get to choose the proportion, you don't get to dodge the issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    And the moon is by no means flat on the 100km scale. (Or on the 10km, 1km, 100m or 10m scales relevant to the project.)
    Bridges or tunnels, you just get to choose the proportion, you don't get to dodge the issue.
    That's a good point. A 100 km project would require it to have its central point a minimum for full coverage of 720m below a spherical surface (196m for Earth), 2880m for a 200 km project. The ratio of the radii gives the differences, which is about 3.67.
    Last edited by George; 2019-Jan-19 at 09:18 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    That's a good point. A 100 km project would require it to have its central point a minimum for full coverage of 720m below a spherical surface (196m for Earth), 2880m for a 200 km project. The ratio of the radii gives the differences, which is about 3.67.
    If itís a ring then you wouldnít really have to worry about the center. I donít think Grant was talking about the fact that the moon is spherical, but rather that, like the earth, it has uneven terrain, so mountains, craters, valleys and the like.


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    Does a particle accelerator need to be exactly circular, or is that just for easier control? If not, then going over (instead of under) lunar relief might be an option. "Just" steer the beam a little bit up or down towards the next accelerator. Come to think of it, would there even need to be a tube around it (as I guess most of us would visualize it) to hurl a packet of protons around the moon?
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    Quote Originally Posted by slang View Post
    Does a particle accelerator need to be exactly circular, or is that just for easier control?
    Particle rings are circular in order to minimize the number (and thus the expense) of the accelerating devices (RF cavities). The charged particles are bent into a circle so they can pass through the same RF cavities over and over again, accelerating the particles to higher and higher energies. Smaller circular paths are less efficient than larger ones since accelerating a charged particle (which includes bending them to one side or the other) causes it to emit photons and lose energy. Because of that, a linear accelerator would be more efficient than a ring, but many more RF cavities would be needed for it to boost particles to a comparable energy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    If it’s a ring then you wouldn’t really have to worry about the center. I don’t think Grant was talking about the fact that the moon is spherical, but rather that, like the earth, it has uneven terrain, so mountains, craters, valleys and the like.
    That's right. You can't build a 100km ring anywhere without needing some tunnels or bridges, because no location is flat on that scale.

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    Easier to get the needed vacuum?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    If it’s a ring then you wouldn’t really have to worry about the center. I don’t think Grant was talking about the fact that the moon is spherical, but rather that, like the earth, it has uneven terrain, so mountains, craters, valleys and the
    Yep, and I realized that too late, but it’s interesting to see the central depth figures, nonetheless.

    I would guess that two or three surface miners in a chevron pattern might be superior to either dozers or excavators, though the latter give great versatility (eg pipe laying).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Easier to get the needed vacuum?
    Why the question mark?
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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Why the question mark?
    Because I wasn't sure. Might it be easier to start with your tube full of air? Probably not, but I'm uncertain. You probably need to do something, I don't think the moon would be hard enough vacuum.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Because I wasn't sure. Might it be easier to start with your tube full of air? Probably not, but I'm uncertain. You probably need to do something, I don't think the moon would be hard enough vacuum.
    Looks like the LHC runs at about a tenth the pressure of the Lunar atmosphere: https://www.nature.com/news/2008/080...2008.1085.html

    At that low a pressure I think most of the 'pumping' is actually ion scavenging. So it would be simpler to do - you could ignore all the other stages in the creation of a vacuum and go straight to that.

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    My educated guess is that the cost of the rough pumping on Earth is a tiny fraction of the cost of building and maintaining a similar facility of the Moon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    That's right. You can't build a 100km ring anywhere without needing some tunnels or bridges, because no location is flat on that scale.
    You wouldn't need to tunnel through anything if you constructed it in orbit. You might consider the whole thing to be a bridge, though.

    Seriously, if you're going to build one in space, orbit's a much better place for a particle accelerator. Easier to get materials and equipment to, constant power, and you can cool the superconducting bits a good bit of the way to operating temperature just by building sunshades. And you can build the ring as big as you want, and even start small and expand it over time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    You wouldn't need to tunnel through anything if you constructed it in orbit.
    Fair enough. Isn't the OP specifically about the surface of the moon, though?

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Fair enough. Isn't the OP specifically about the surface of the moon, though?
    Yes, but he questioned its goodness, so comparisons seem implied.

    Would the ice sites greatly improve a lunar ROI? Protection from solar flares is another thing that might favor a Moon facility, though solar panels might restore orbital favor, perhaps. I assume gravity isn’t a plus assuming adequate ring rotation, or are there problems with that?
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjameshuff View Post
    You wouldn't need to tunnel through anything if you constructed it in orbit. You might consider the whole thing to be a bridge, though.

    Seriously, if you're going to build one in space, orbit's a much better place for a particle accelerator. Easier to get materials and equipment to, constant power, and you can cool the superconducting bits a good bit of the way to operating temperature just by building sunshades. And you can build the ring as big as you want, and even start small and expand it over time.
    Unless you add a huge amount of shielding your detectors are going to have a hard time distinguishing cosmic ray hits from the experiment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Yes, but he questioned its goodness, so comparisons seem implied.
    Fair enough, again. I was just gently pointing out that when I wrote about needing tunnels and/or bridges "anywhere", it was with reference to the OP's constraints. Anywhere on the surface of the moon, in other words.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slang View Post
    Does a particle accelerator need to be exactly circular, or is that just for easier control?
    Iím not sure about the design of the LHC, but synchrotrons, the type of accelerator I am most familiar with, are not circular though they look circular. The are actually made up of a series of straight sections with bends, and the bends are where the beam lines are. So I think a circular shape gives you the most beam lines per length of the storage ring. And like you say, it may be easier to control that way.


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    Quote Originally Posted by glappkaeft View Post
    Unless you add a huge amount of shielding your detectors are going to have a hard time distinguishing cosmic ray hits from the experiment.
    You'd want a fair amount of shielding on your detectors, but I doubt it'll be as bad as you describe. Your beam is going to be far more luminous, and the energy levels that would actually merit a huge orbital particle accelerator would be vastly greater than all but the rarest of cosmic ray particles.

    But even a shell of a couple meters around the detector of ultra high purity water shipped from Earth would probably be the cheapest part of the accelerator...something like $3.4 billion/kiloton launched on a Falcon Heavy to an orbit of similar difficulty as GTO. And if you're building a particle accelerator in space because Earth doesn't have room for one as big as you want to build, you can probably take advantage of asteroids or other sources of material in space. Even if you're harvesting the material on the moon, the advantages of being in orbit are enough to merit launching it there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    My educated guess is that the cost of the rough pumping on Earth is a tiny fraction of the cost of building and maintaining a similar facility of the Moon.
    Yes, and I am afraid that "tiny fraction" is probably an under(over?)statement. "Minuscule fraction" perhaps. You would really need a very good reason to warrant building something like that on the moon.
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    If you have the capability to build an accelerator on the moon then you could probably build one in LEO or even at a Lagrange point. Why even be tethered to a planet? Why not take advantage of microgravity and build a tremendously long accelerator in space?


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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    If you have the capability to build an accelerator on the moon then you could probably build one in LEO or even at a Lagrange point. Why even be tethered to a planet? Why not take advantage of microgravity and build a tremendously long accelerator in space?


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    yes...I feel a bit silly with the moon idea now.
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    Such a free space accelerator might even have a secondary use. Draining van allen belts perhaps. Protecting the Earth?
    https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2017/1...ar-flares.html

    Energy storage?

    "To achieve commercially useful levels of storage, around 1 GW∑h (3.6 TJ), a SMES installation would need a loop of around 100 miles (160 km). This is traditionally pictured as a circle, though in practice it could be more like a rounded rectangle. In either case it would require access to a significant amount of land to house the installation:" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superc...energy_storage

    I wonder if an accelerator can at least have its structure used for other things.....

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