10 Most Expensive Science Experiments of All Time

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Science and technology changed our outlook of the world that we have known before, especially the way we live today.  Successful experiments have made strides in the better understanding of the physical world around us. But these groundbreaking accomplishments would have not been achieved without funds, as money has become its life source. Without it, science would have been dead a long time ago, and we would not have seen the world today as we know it.

Let’s take a look at some of the planet’s greatest experiments that scientists, researchers, governments, and companies have put billions worth of budget to obtain significant results to change the perspective of entire human race in science.

10.  The Quantum Computer (15 million dollars)


Have you ever asked yourself how advanced we are in the field of technology? Computers and smartphones today have more processing power than that of the computers used on the Apollo 11—let that sink in for a moment.

Truly, computers have greatly influenced and assisted in many aspects of the human world, especially in space travel, and there are endless limitations with regard to the development of these amazing super devices. Currently, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or more commonly known as NASA, has paired up with Google to create the world’s first quantum computer, which has a built-in processor that runs 3,600 faster than the average computer up to date.

According to Brad Pietras of Lockheed Martin, quantum computing will be most beneficial initially in the fields of drug discovery, cyber security, business, finance, investment, health care, logistics, and planning.

In the near future after the materialization of this project, scientific experiments will never be the same.

9.  Regional Scale Nodes (76.6 million dollars)

It is dumbfounding how humans have explored more parts of space than the waters in their own planet. According to statistics, only 10 percent of the Earth’s bodies of water have been fully explored from surface to the floor, and little has been known about the oceans that make up most of our planet due to the extremes and factors that have to be considered for deep-sea exploration.

To learn more about our home planet and the accumulated changes over time, Ocean Observatories Initiative, a section of US National Science Foundation, is currently working on the first major cabled observatory that will sit in the Pacific Ocean near the coast of Oregon.

Based on the plans, the observatory will be composed of cabled sensors to measure physical and chemical changes in the ocean. This project will also be useful in the fields of geology, atmosphere, and biology.

8.  Solyndra (1.6 billion dollars)

With the growing concern of climate change and global warming, research and development of ways to harness alternative sources of energy has emerged over past few years. One of them is the use of solar energy to provide a better and eco-friendly power.

In 2009, Solyndra has borrowed a huge sum of money from the government to create their unique product that are made of round solar panels, which are supposed to capture and reuse the sun’s energy more efficiently. As they were supported by the Department of Energy, the project  became a popular and exciting venture.

Unfortunately, Solyndra has failed greatly as they were not making any significant difference compared to those products of their competitors, which are far cheaper to construct.

7.  Watson (900 million to 1.8 billion dollars)

To help revolutionize modern medicine, IBM has been developing a computer system that is capable of artificial intelligence, which is called Watson. Its goal is to minimize margins of error in diagnoses and treatments, especially those that put too much risk in the hands of doctors.

The cost of the development of this technology has not been confirmed by IBM, although CNN  estimates the budget of $900 million–$1.8 billion for the project. It will be sold to hospitals, however, for only $3 million.

During 2001, IBM has given the world a peek of Watson’s capabilities by featuring it in a game of Jeopardy!, besting the two of the most successful winners of the said game show, and winning $1 million.

6.  Superconducting Super Collider (2 billion dollars)

At its time, Superconducting Super Collider was considered as the most expensive science experiment in early 2000s. However, the government shut the entire project as they were putting a lot of money in it. The goal of the failed experiment in Texas was to find the Higgs boson.



5.  Curiosity (2.5 billion dollars)

In August of 2012, the world witnessed the landing of the rover Curiosity in Mars. As a part of NASA’s Mars Exploration program, the rover’s mission was to study the geology and climate of the planet, while investigating the environment for evidences of life support. The probe’s job was to also look for habitability in preparation for the future human travel in the said planet.

4.  Cancer Research (4.9 billion dollars)

Every day, cancer takes the lives of 7.6 million people, and until today, there is no known cure for it. Doctors and scientists have been working around the clock to find treatment for all kinds of cancer, and the research has been funded a great deal.

According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated amount of $4.9 billion is spent annually on the study—a fairly small price to pay in order to diminish and cease the ruthless disease from taking away the people we love.

3.  Large Hadron Collider (10 billion dollars)

In 2008, the construction of the Large Hadron Collider was finished. The 27-kilometer  ring of superconducting magnets was considered as the most powerful particle accelerator in the world. Not long after its completion, the long suspected Higgs boson particle, sometimes referred to as the “God Particle,” was discovered, and it solved some of the world’s mysteries, including the Big Bang theory, as it served as the link in the field of modern physics.

9.  International Fusion Experiment (12.8 billion dollars)

The International Fusion Experiment is considered as the most expensive science experiment today. The construction started in 2006, and it is being funded by the European Union, the United States, China, India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea.

The said project will reach its completion around 2020, and  it will feature the largest magnetic confinement plasma physics experiment in operation. The International Fusion Experiment is designed for energy conversion and efficiency as it functions to convert and sustain an input of 50 megawatts into 500 megawatts of power.

10.  The International Space Station (150 billion dollars)

The International Space Station was the most costly project in the history of science and technology. Since 1998, it has been continuously occupied by researchers who study the life in space, such as the human body and reaction in space. It was also used as a stop for the drawing of plans in future missions to Mars and the moon.

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