As director of the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing—a center within the Chinese Academy of Sciences that has more than 1,400 employees and an annual budget in excess of $200 million (US)—Yifang Wang has a lot on his mind. But of all the issues Wang has to grapple with, one is paramount: Does high-energy physics, the subject around which this entire research operation revolves, actually have a future? Both as a scientist (and recipient of the 2016 Fundamental Physics Prize) and as an administrator, Wang is working hard to ensure that it does.
The world’s premier facility for this line of work, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland, won’t be around forever. Once its work wraps up in a couple of decades, the field as a whole could shut down unless, somewhere, a bigger and better replacement comes to the fore. In other words, someone needs to start making preparations for the next high-energy physics machine. Wang believes that that “someone” could be China, and he has spent the past several years mobilizing physicists in his country and elsewhere, as well as conferring with political, civic, and business leaders, in the hopes of turning this wild notion into reality.
–by Steve Nadis and Shing-Tung Yau