The Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) will house the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), which will be built and operated by a group of around 1,000 scientists and engineers from 30 countries, including the UK.
A DUNE spokesman said: “When complete, LBNF/DUNE will be the largest experiment ever built in the United States to study the properties of mysterious particles called neutrinos. “Unlocking the mysteries of these particles could help explain more about how the universe works, and why matter exists at all.”
Grahame Blair, Executive Director of Programmes at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), said: “The ground-breaking ceremony today is a significant milestone in what is an extremely exciting prospect for the UK scientific community.
The DUNE experiment could tell us exactly why the universe formed in the way it did.
Mark Thomson, from the University of Cambridge and co-spokesperson of the DUNE collaboration said: “The international DUNE collaboration came together to realise a dream of a game-changing program of neutrino science; today represents a major milestone in turning this dream into reality.”
The DUNE spokesman added: “One aspect DUNE scientists will look for is the differences in behaviour between neutrinos and their antimatter counterparts, antineutrinos, which could give us clues as to why we live in a matter-dominated universe.
“In other words, why we are all here, instead of having been annihilated just after the Big Bang.
“DUNE will also watch for neutrinos produced when a star explodes, which could reveal the formation of neutron stars and black holes, and will investigate whether protons live forever or eventually decay, bringing us closer to fulfilling Einstein’s dream of a grand unified theory.”
The LHC run by CERN (The European Organisation for Nuclear Research) in Geneva is currently the world’s largest and most powerful machine and used to collide particles at close to the speed of light in a bid to discover more about physics and the possibility of parallel universes.
The curious machine developed across a 16-mile ring of superconducting magnets has had critics before amid claims it could inadvertently create a black hole that may swallow up the world, something CERN vehemently denies.