After 26 years, the world's second largest particle accelerator, Tevatron, will shut down this Friday as American science falls victim to the present financial crunch.
The present budgetary climate did not permit the U.S. Department of Energy (D.O.E.) to secure the additional funds needed to run the Tevatron for three more years as recommended by the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel.
The decision to shutdown the collider goes against the recommendations of the US particle-physics community's scientific advisory group, which believes that the machine still has work to do.
The news disappointed American physicists who had hoped that three more years of running might give them a glimpse of as yet unobserved phenomena like the Higgs boson, a storied particle said to imbue other particles with mass.
As building another big particle project in U.S. currently seems impossible considering the crisis of funds, physicists from Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory and scientists from all over the country are requesting the D.O.E. to fund the existing intensity frontier, which explores fundamental particles and forces of nature using intense particle beams and highly sensitive detectors, as described by the Fermilab.
The Tevatron particle accelerator was one of the most powerful machines when it was completed in 1983. Presently it is recognized as the second most powerful accelerator after the Large Hadron Collider of the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN).
Tevatron accelerates protons and antiprotons at 99.999954 per cent of the speed of light around a four-mile loop, letting the two beams collide. The results of those collisions allow scientists to study the structure of matter on a very small scale.
Since its opening in 1985, its luminosity, a measure of the number of collisions produced, has increased by a factor of 20 million. Its detectors have gathered data at an exponential rate, along the way discovering Top Quark, a particle which is one of the fundamental constituents of matter, and the tau neutrino in 2000.
The D.O.E. Office of Science is currently considering the establishment of a major underground science facility to study underground particle physics.
We need to look at the future of American particle physics, not through the lens of politics, but through the lens of science, and determine where we can make the greatest impact with finite resources, said Committee Member, Rep. Judy Biggert.
These strategic investments are a critical step in maintaining the talent and scientific leadership necessary to for us to meet the challenges of the 21st century. And it's at cutting-edge facilities like Fermi where the next generation of young minds will be inspired to pursue innovations here in the U.S. that will create jobs, cure diseases, and push the frontiers of science.