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A passion for accelerators.

A passion for accelerators

Ou est la tres sage Helois, Pour quifut chatre et puis moine Pierre Esbaillart a Saint Denis? Pour son amour ot cette essoine.

--Fran*eois Villon, Ballade des dames du temps jadis

[Where is that very gifted Heloise, for whom Pierre Abelard of Saint Denis was castrated and then became a monk? He suffered such a trial for the sake of his love.]

Physicists are now busy planning the next generation of accelerators for the study of elementary particles. These machines are planned to endow particles with energies in the tens of trillions of electron-volts to probe ever-finer structures of matter. The most serious studies envision two machines, says Maurice Jacob of the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, one in Europe, more or less under CERN's auspices, the other the Superconducting Super Collider in the United States.

Now, however, there is Heloise, or at least her namesake, the Heloisatron. Italian physicist Nino Zichichi, inspired by the famous love affair of Heloise and Abelard, proposes building the accelerator in Apulia, the rugged, romantic "boot heel' of Italy. All such machines would be huge, and Zichichi's Heloisatron would be a circle stretching across Apulia from the Golfo di Taranto to the Adriatic Sea. Its injector, which would supply slightly preaccelerated particles to the main circle, would be called Abelard. Reportedly the Italian government is willing to put up $1 billion for such a machine, provided the rest of the world kicks in a few billion more. Other physicists are referring to Zichichi's proposal as "vague,' thus damning it with faint definition. As the refrain of Villon's poem puts it: Ou sont les neiges d'antan? [Where are the snows of yesteryear?]
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Title Annotation:particle accelerators
Publication:Science News
Date:May 17, 1986
Previous Article:On the trail of element 110.
Next Article:Strange nuclei in Japan.

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