One of the biggest science projects in human history is ready to begin. Scientists from around the world announced today that they have completed the final design specs for what will become the largest particle accelerator ever built, the International Linear Collider, a planned 19.3-mile-long (31 km) machine that will be used to reveal the properties of dark matter and other fundamental particles that make up the universe. "The technology is there, the R&D milestones have been achieved, the physics case is clear, and we could start construction tomorrow," said Barry Barish, a US physicist and the leader of the accelerator's global design effort, in a statement.
The goal of the machine is to understand just what the universe is made of and how it all fits together. Scientists theorize that most of the universe (95 percent or more) is made up of dark matter, but no such particles have actually ever been observed. The new International Linear Collider (ILC) should be able to create these particles and more by smashing together beams of electrons and their opposite particles known as positrons.