Philip Burrows

Associate Director at John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science

Moving mind portrait of
Philip Burrows

You are currently working on a new collider, can you give some insights to the dimensions of such a huge project?

Around 500 people have been working on the design of Electron Positron Linear Colliders for more than 20 years. Now we have the technical design, a document which is at least thousand pages long with all the technical details that we need to build the collider. The baseline design calls for a machine which is approximately 30 kilometers long. The cost of course is large, approximately 10 Billion USD. The team would be roughly 1000 people working for approximately 10 years full time dedicated to realize the collider. I am not counting the previous 20 years and once it turns on you would need a team of several hundred people who would be dedicated to maintaining, operating and updating it for a period of 20 or 30 years.

I will be quite lucky to see this machine turn on before I retire – officially – in 2029. I have to accept that it may never happen. We very much hope that it will and I cerntainly hope that I will live to see it. Of course there is a chance that I will not. But if you do not try, you won’t get it, right?

What do you expect to discover with the ILC?

The liniar collider would be a phantastic machine for producing dark matter in very clean experimental conditions. The other main purpose would be to produce copious quantities of the Higgs Boson, something like 20.000 Higgs Bosons a year, every one of which we could study and analyze. So this is the ideal place to pick apart the Higgs Boson. And of course we’re hoping to see evidence for new physics processes, maybe supersymmetric particles. The linear collider would be a beautiful place to produce pairs of top and antitop quarks, which would be another very important aspect of our physics programme.

What fascinates you concerning CERN?

CERN is an absolutely amazing place. It has got roughly 2500 staff members and at least 10.000 perhaps 15.000 users like me. I’m not sure if there is any other organisation which brings together people from so many different nationalities, countries and backgrounds and has them working together on a truly common purpose. What is unique at CERN is that we manage to be competitive but we also manage to be collaborative. We know that we have to collaborate and bring our resources together otherwise we are not be able to do anything at all.

© Bree Corn,