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$4.4 B super collider gets go-ahead.

$4.4 B Super Collider gets go-ahead

President reagan last week approvedconstruction of the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC), which will be the world's most advanced particle accelerator. Although some 40 states have expressed interest in becoming home to the $4.4 billion project, Energy Secretary John S. Herrington says, "We have made no determination as to where the [SSc] will be sited -- and there is no front-runner."

SSC would employ roughly 10,000 superconductingmagnets to focus and guide two beams of 20-trillion-electron-volt (20 TeV) protons in opposite directions through a 52-mile, racetrack-shaped underground tunnel (SN: 9/22/84, p.181; 1/5/85, p.5). At four experimental stations the beams of protons -- accelerated to almost the speed of light -- would be allowed to collide, creating new subatomic particles.

According to the Washington, D.C.-basedUniversities Research Association, a consortium of 56 universities that helped design the project, SSC will be a "microscope of unparalleled power," able to probe distances one-thousandth the diameter of a proton to "provide unprecedented insights into the world of elementary particles and, indirectly, into the birth of our universe."

Leon Lederman, director of the FermiNational Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., and other particle physicists who had pushed for the project were ecstatic at news of SSC's go-ahead. Lederman describes SSC's mission as "to study the origin of mass." Along the way, he expects "some new physics must appear."

Not all physicists share Lederman'senthusiasm. One of SSC's most vocal critics is Rustom Roy, former director of the Materials Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University in University Park. To spend this much money for particle physics "will just hurt the rest of science," says Roy, who claims that "at least 99 percent of all scientists would vote against building it [SSC]." Moreover, in tackling SSC alone, the United States is "also losing a prime opportunity for the internationalization of science," he says.
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Author:Raloff, Janet
Publication:Science News
Date:Feb 7, 1987
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