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Indian atomic boffins draw up plans for 50,000 TONNE magnet

World's biggest will dwarf CERN's tiddler...

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Indian engineers are drawing up plans to build the world’s biggest magnet, four times the size of the one used at CERN, as part of a massive particle physics project to be housed in a 1,300 metre deep cave.

The 50,000 tonne magnet is being designed at the country’s Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and will eventually be used in the Rs1,500 crore (£180.5m) Neutrino Observatory project in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, according to Times of India.

By comparison, the solenoid magnet used in CERN's feted Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) is just 12,500 tonnes.

The team behind the Indian project is apparently waiting for a green light from the Atomic Energy Commission before building work can commence.

Project spokeswoman Naba Mondal told ToI that if all goes to plan construction will begin later this year and be completed by 2018, with around 100 atomic boffins on board.

The Neutrino Observatory will be housed in a giant cave in a mountain range located in the Bodi West Hills Reserved Forest.

As the name suggests, the primary aim of the project is to find out more about the behaviour of the subatomic particles known as atmospheric neutrinos.

The idea is that the neutrinos will interact with the 50,000 tonnes of magnetised iron - layered in 6cm thick plates – resulting in charged particles that will be affected by the magnetic field.

Tens of thousands of detectors will be installed in the observatory to monitor the behaviour of these particles.

Neutrino particle research projects are nothing new – Super Kamiokande in Japan has been in operation for nearly 30 years, for example – but it is hoped the sheer scale of this one could lead to some interesting findings. ®

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