"Particle physicists are pondering the successor for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the 27 km (circumference) tunnel on the Franco-Swiss border which has produced experimental data to confirm the existence of the Higgs boson. CERN recently announced it was studying several proposals for a next generation hadron collider; perhaps the most intriguing was TLEP, an enormous (80-100 km) circular collider to be built adjacent to the LHC, that would pass below Lake Geneva. A group of physicists mostly associated with Texas A&M University have counterproposed reviving the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC), a partly-built 87 km circular collider south of Dallas that was abandoned in 1993 after Congress cancelled the project.
The Texas A&M physicists argue that a completed SSC would be powerful enough to generate the Higgs boson in quantities that would allow detailed study (a 'Higgs Factory' in the authors' words), while saving money relative to competing proposals since 45 percent of the tunnel has already been drilled. But then it gets real interesting; the authors propose an additional tunnel, an enormous 270 km circumference collider that would encircle the city of Dallas. Protons would be accelerated in the SSC tunnel for injection into the hadron collider."
As I recall, the site has had several owners over the years and is owned right now by a local chemical company, that got it for a few millions. Well, I guess the price of the property just increased by a few 100%...
And what state are the tunnels in? Are they still there? Have they been filled up?
The SSC site is in Texas, in the Dallas suburb of Waxahachie. The chemical company Magnublend bought the old SSC campus [waxahachietx.com] (five buildings, 135 acres). As for the tunnels:
"Everyone wants to know about the tunnel. The bottom line is, there is no access to the tunnels and we have no interest in the tunnel whatsoever," he said. "As long as we own this property, the tunnel shafts will remain sealed. We want the buildings."
"we have no interest in the tunnel whatsoever," he said. "As long as we own this property, the tunnel shafts will remain sealed. We want the buildings.""
This coming from a Chemical company? Yeah....Right....
My understanding is that the tunnels now have water in them. That would have to be pumped out, obviously.
I was in Dallas when they canceled the Super-conductor-super-collider project.
The original project was supposed to be located somewhere south of the DFW (Dallas Forth-Worth) area.
But Texas is a BIG state and they don't need to put that thing in the same place.
Abiline Texas still have a lot of land, and I mean, A LOT. They can even build a 870-KM collider there if they want to.
The beauty of the site is that it contains alot of "Austin chalk", which, if I recall correctly from when it was selected, is extremely nice material to tunnel through (read: cheap). From a technical standpoint, this was a huge selling point to locating it where they did. Here's an article from the time [chicagotribune.com] (I remember reading this article at the time; it is funny which little things one carries in their head for 25 years, although I was at UT Austin at the time studying physics so it was big news then).
When considering that as alternative to the CERN project, it is at a distinct disadvantage: Past experience teaches that there's a danger that funding is cancelled midway, leaving you completely without a collider, but with lots of money wasted. Meanwhile CERN has a track record of finishing its colliders.
"but with lots of money wasted"
As a political project in the USA, there's no such thing as money wasted. If you brought X jobs to your district because an employer in your district is the official supplier of toilet paper for the SSC, you've "won" no matter what happens to the collider. See NASA.
That is the primary problem. In the USA it'll be implemented as a jobs program. CERN is actually aiming at running a scientific experiment. You'll get what you try to implement... In the USA there will be people in every congressional district hired and votes bought and re-election funds gained. The experiment may of course never work or never be completed but thats OK. So the .eu will surely win by any scientific measure.
Sadly, yes; there's jobs created, and "jobs created". Politicians need to realize that a large number of jobs created is both a benefit (to those who get the jobs) and a cost (to those who pay for it). And the system encourages getting the benefits in one's own district while distributing the cost.
As for reviving the SSC, Neil DeGrasse Tyson discussed [youtube.com] the original defunding and the subsequent building of the LHC. His point is essentially that as a scientist, he doesn't care where science gets done as long as it gets done--but as an American, he'd sort of prefer that it was done in America.
I'm in an academic field where a lot (certainly not all, but a lot) of the strongest researchers are in the US; I know a number of people from all over the world who came to the US for graduate school, and then stayed afterwards. As it currently stands, many bright young particle physicists are ending up in Europe; had the SSC been completed they likely would have ended up in the US. Having a bunch of smart people decide to live in your country will bring both direct and indirect benefits (economic and otherwise). I don't really know anything about the economics of reviving the SSC, but that should certainly be a factor.
"and then stayed afterwards" what like illegals, LOL?
The USA is notoriously brutal in treatment of legal immigrants. This would be something of a problem, a lot of people don't want to deal with the paperwork and security theater, so "cool stuff" gets done outside the US borders, preferably in .eu
"The USA is notoriously brutal in treatment of legal immigrants"
Especially in Texas, where being a redneck is a matter of pride. They have had quite the invasion of liberals from Kalifornia, but my understanding is that most of the liberally minded end up in Austin, not Dallas. Of course they are being colonized full-steam by Mexico (which isn't necessarily a bad thing IMHO).
As a scientist I can tell you that the US does a pretty good job of getting $ to people doing research. The problem seems to creep in when the project becomes large enough that it becomes Political. Funding a multi-billion dollar project with no tangible product is a tough sell. Unless someone can point to the LHC and say "See? Big accelerator projects do x, y, and z for the country that owns them" The US won't fund the project. Even after that hurdle, the US would absolutely build a jobs program not a science program. The plus side is that NASA shows that you CAN do science with a jobs program- it's just not going to be optimally efficient.
But then it gets real interesting; the authors propose an additional tunnel, an enormous 270 km circumference collider that would encircle the city of Dallas. Protons would be accelerated in the SSC tunnel for injection into the hadron collider."
This sounds like a scheme to generate an interdimensional portal around Dallas.
I'm truly a fan of science that probes the deep questions. The more we learn about the universe the more exciting it is to be a small part of it. However, is there other expensive and technically challenging projects that should have a priority for physicists now?
Of course, I understand we can do more than one thing but if money is tight where should we put it? For example, should we be building experimental platforms in space for finding gravity waves or attempting to find evidence for branes or strings? (Note: I'm probably not remembering my readings right, but I believe very large in length or distance between measurement points, isolated devices are need to directly measure any of the predications from these theories.)
I guess the question is: if you had choice, what other expensive science projects should be funded?
(PS: keep the good stories coming SN!)
Recently people in HEP have been talking about a 100 TeV collider [blogspot.com] more seriously than they have in the past. The problem is, with the repeated failure of beyond-the-Standard-Model theoretical predictions (Supersymmetry, etc), it seems foolhardy to construct another x billion dollar/euro project that has the potential of finding nothing new.
This proposal is interesting though, because they propose a relatively modest machine for the SSC tunnel, with weaker magnets than the LHC. They also propose reuse of technology from the CEBAF 12 GeV upgrade for the injection linac. So presumably there would be minimal R&D required to build this machine.
The bigger ring, though, is total pie-in-the-sky. The magnet tech is still under development, and no matter how you slice it, it's gonna cost way too much. Still, I guess it could happen, and then the question becomes "where do you build it?" The obvious choices are CERN and Fermilab, but at this point it never hurts to throw your hat in the ring.