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Name:  James
Status:  student
Age:  20s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001


Question:
I am curious. There is a big particle accelerator being constructed in the UK, 260$ million to build. Everyone is touting it to be great, but wasn't there a 23 billion dollar one being made in texas, that was cancelled when it was 11 billion dollars in completeion and took around 3 billion to cancell it... So what I'm wondering is what political people were responsible for this, and where I can get more information, because I'm kind of angry now that I am more educated about the subject. From what I know now, essentially our government set physics back around a decade or so.


Replies:
I am unfamiliar with the particle accelerator being built in the UK, but believe that it is an X-ray synchrotron of which there are several in the US of which the most notable is the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, near Chicago.

The particle accelerator known as the Superconductor Supercollider (SSC) was over way over budget. The initial concept was quoted at $4B, the prices escalated to a factor of 10. The machine was intended to be used to study high energy physics. However, smaller machines are now being upgraded to perform unique experiments in the U. S. (Fermi Laboratory) and the European Accelerator Facility (CERN near Geneva Switzerland).

Many U.S. scientist use CERN and there is commensurate use of U.S. facilities by international scientists.

Dr. Myron


Hello,

I think that there are two distinct questions regarding the funding of a scientific project. One is "do we need to do this project?" and the other one is "does this project rank high up among all other needs, scientific and otherwise".

Fewer people dispute the mere need. But you get a more divergent opinion, even and perhaps specially among scientist and engineers, as to the priority of one scientific program over another. Reasons unrelated to scientific merit often influence and perhaps determine the decision as to which project is funded. An influential person in the congress or the administration can make a "case" for a weak project while a meritorious project may not get funded because it lacks a strong backer. This is a fact of life. In the final analysis, and for many reasons such as this, I feel that there is no substitute for an educated and engaged populace. On the particular project you mentioned, there are a variety of opinions among scientists based on their self interest, experience, priorities, and vision for the future. While the project was scrapped, research on various components of it continues. I think there are many people far more familiar with this than I and I hope they comment on it.

Dr. Ali Khounsary
Advanced Photon Source
Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne, IL 60439



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