America's largest and the world's second largest particle accelerator, Tevatron, was shut down Friday after 28 glowing years of rigorous operation.
The accelerator that falls prey to the present American financial crisis was recommended by the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel to run for another three years. But the present budgetary climate did not permit the U.S. Department of Energy (D.O.E.) to secure the additional funds needed.
American physicists are disappointed with the decision to power down the collider as it is believed that the machine could have been key to unearth yet unobserved phenomena like the Higgs boson, or the God particle.
Although the work of the $265 million circular particle accelerator is done, Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory will still be chomping data from the collider for at least two more years, according to the D.O.E.
Tevatron was one of the most powerful machines when it was completed in 1983, and until 2009, it was the world's largest particle accelerator. Presently, it is recognized as the second most powerful accelerator after the Large Hadron Collider of the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN).
The accelerator has been turned off, but the physics goes on, the Wall Street Journal quoted Dmitri Denisov, co-spokesman for DZero, one of the experiments on the Tevatron, as saying.
Fermilab has a few major projects in hand that include the composition of subatomic neutrinos by firing them underground to South Dakota, and research on high intensity physics, dubbed Project X.
Scientists are also installing a device, called the Dark Energy Camera, in Chile. The device is due to conduct the largest galaxy survey of all time.
However, according to Fermilab, funding is an issue as building another big particle project, upgrading and maintain existing facilities will cost billions of dollars.
Currently Fermilab employs about 1,900 people, including 300 to 400 scientists. Some of the Tevatron employees will be transferred to other initiatives at the lab, such as Project X, the MicroBooNe and the Illinois Accelerator Research Center.
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 accelerator was completed in 1983 at a cost of $120 million and since then it has been regularly upgraded.
Its detectors have gathered data at an exponential rate, discovering Top Quark, a particle which is one of the fundamental constituents of matter, and the tau neutrino in 2000. The Energy Doubler, as it was known then, produced its first accelerated beam - 512 GeV - on July 3, 1983.