Big Science: The 10 Most Ambitious Experiments in the Universe Today

These ten awe-inspiring science projects range from the world's largest undersea observatory to the "ultimate microscope" to a Jupiter orbiter on a suicide mission--but they're all massive, often in both size and scope

To improve our view of a vast and complex universe, scientists are creating increasingly ambitious new tools. The work is not easy. Truly big science requires decades of expensive commitment from multiple nations. But the instruments that result are nearly as awe-inspiring as the new worlds they help us discover. Check out our ranking of the 10 most epic.

How We Did It

Like anything that’s large and involved, big science is not easy to measure. For our rankings, we took into account four objective factors: the construction costs above all, but also the operating budget, the size of the staff and the physical size of the project itself. Even these were hard to compare on an apples-to-apples basis, though, so we also used a tiering system. Then we added in three subjective factors, weighing them more heavily to reflect their relative importance: the project’s scientific utility, its utility to the average person (“what will it do for me”) and the always essential “wow” factor. For a complete explanation of our scoring, click here.

Enough talk. Click here to jump into our gallery of the ten craziest, most ambitious, and most amazing big science projects around.