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According to the Los Angeles Time (Massive proton collider is a great big hit after all) and The New York Times (European Collider Begins Its Subatomic Exploration) the Large Hadron Collider did end up costing 10 billion dollars:

In 2008, when faulty wiring closed down the $10-billion Large Hadron Collider for more than a year, many wondered whether physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research had a white elephant on their hands.

After 16 years and $10 billion — and a long morning of electrical groaning and sweating — there was joy in the meadows and tunnels of the Swiss-French countryside Tuesday: the world’s biggest physics machine, the Large Hadron Collider, finally began to make subatomic particles collide.

Whereas The Times of India ('Big Bang' day for 30 Indian scientists) talk about a cost of 4 billion dollars:

At the heart of this is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which was constructed at a cost of $4.4 billion. It is the latest in a series of successively more powerful particle accelerators that have been built at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) laboratory in Geneva.

Which is the truth? What are the facts? Did the Large Hadron Collider end up costing 10 billion dollars as some journalists are claiming?

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From Cern's own ask an expert section of their website.

The cost for the machine alone is about 4.6 billion CHF (about 3 billion Euro). The total project cost breaks down roughly as follows: } 4.6 billion CHF total cost of the accelerator } 1.1 billion CHF total CERN contribution to the experiments (about 20% of the detector costs, supported by large collaborations of institutes worldwide) } 0.26 billion CHF total contribution to computing (manpower and materials and both CERN’s and external contributions). The experimental collaborations are individual entities, funded independently from CERN. CERN is a member of each experiment, and contributes to the budget of CMS and LHCb at the 20% level, 16% for ALICE and 13% for ATLAS. TOTEM is a much smaller experiment, with a total material cost of about 6.5 million CHF. The CERN share of this is, however, 30%.

4.6 CHF converted to dollars is $5,054,940,000.00 according to Google's conversion tool. This number is the number that the LHC actually cost to build, and does not include the budget for operation nor the repairs done in 2008 and 2009.

Although this article from Popular Science(PopSci) states that the LHC had a construction cost of $7.82 billion. This figure may be the initial cost plus the cost of repairs that had to be done, it does not say. It also shows that the LHC has an annual operating budget of 1.2 billion (Numbers are on a picture, so I cannot direct quote them). Which if you add the 7.82 billion and add 1.2 bil 4 times for the operating cost for the years of 2008-2012, which is when they found the Higgs boson particle, you get 12.62 billion.

According to Forbes though...

The Large Hadron Collider was first turned on in August of 2008, then stopped for repairs in September until November 2009. Taking all of those costs into consideration, the total cost of finding the Higgs boson ran about $13.25 billion.

The 10 bil number that you have quoted could be the combination of the initial cost, repairs, and the annual budget that it took to find the Higgs boson particle.

You have posted articles from 2008, the 4.4 bil figure, and 2010, the 10 bil figure. So at the time of the 2008 article, 4.4 bil was roughly correct depending on the currency that was used. In 2010 the 10 bil figure was roughly correct. By using the number supplied by PopSci, in 2010 the cost came to $10.22 billion.

So to sum it up, Both figures appear to be correct at the times that they were written, but neither is correct now. The total cost to find a Higgs boson particle, which was a major purpose of the LHC, appears to be between 12.62 billion, based off the numbers cited by PopSci and my own calculations, and 13.25 billion based off of Forbes calculations.

  • 3
    two problems with your calculations: 1) You take current USD/CHF exchange rate, while it has varied from 0.8 USD/CHF in fall-2008, to 1.3 USD/CHF in mid-2011. 2) You did not inflation adjust the values. – vartec Jul 30 '13 at 14:36

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