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SSC gets off to a magnetic start.

SSC gets off to a magnetic start

Although Congress has yet to appropriate funds for starting construction of the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC), researchers have completed the first phase in the magnet development program. Last month, they demonstrated a full-scale magnet that meets the principal requirements for bending the paths of protons to follow the collider's ring geometry. The effort to develop a prototype took about four years.

In the collider, two beams of protons speed through pipes slightly more than an inch in diameter. Each pipe is surrounded by magnet coils made out of cables containing tens of thousands of superconducting niobium-titanium filaments, each filament about one-sixth the diameter of a human hair. The coils are chilled with liquid helium so that they can carry currents as large as 6,500 amperes without any energy loss.

In tests at Fermilab in Batavia, Ill., the prototype magnet operated successfully at 7,500 amperes, demonstrating that it could hold together even at magnetic forces greater than those needed to run the collider. "We have achieved the desired performance in one demonstration magnet," says Thomas B.W. Kirk of the SSC Central Design Group, based in Berkeley, Calif.

The next step involves working with industry to develop methods for manufacturing such magnets. About 8,000 magnets, each 55 feet long, will be needed for the main collider ring, which has a circumference of 53 miles.
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Title Annotation:Physics; Superconducting Super Collider
Author:Peterson, Ivars
Publication:Science News
Date:May 13, 1989
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