How much does a collider cost? And is it worth it?
Physics Department, Milan University, Italy
It is often claimed that fundamental research has benefits for society that go beyond its conceptual value. In this talk, I describe recent work trying to put this claim on a quantitative basis using tools of cost-benefit analysis. I describe a protocol which can be used to estimate the benefits associated to a research infrastructure, just in the same way as one can estimate the benefits of constructing a bridge. I also present recent work which validates this protocol using empirical data. I show that the benefits of a particle accelerator like the large hadron collider of CERN exceed its cos, and come almost in equal proportions from technological spillovers, from human capital formation, and from cultural benefits.