The Tevatron, the most successful atom smasher in the world, shut down for the last time 3:40 p.m. on Friday. It played a big role in the quest to find the elusive Higgs Boson or God particle and is run by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
We're thinking of it as if we're pulling the plug on our favorite uncle, Roger Dixon, head of the accelerator division at Fermilab, told Fox News on Thursday.
Operators shut down Tevatron by switching off dual beams of particles that have been colliding since 1985.
That will be it, Gregorio Bernardi, a physicist at Fermilab, told the media. Then we'll have a big party.
The decision to terminate Tevatron put an end to a fruitful era in research during which time scientists used Tevatron to search for the origin of mass. They were also able to look for new particles that could explain the nature of the universe itself.
Tevatron sent protons and anti-protons around a four-mile track nearly at the speed of light before smashing them together in order to free hidden particles that make up matter. Tevatron discovered three of the 17 particles that scientists think are fundamental to the universe. Its biggest success came in in 1995 when it found a subatomic particle called the top quark, the last of six fundamental building blocks of matter to be discovered.
Many exciting measurements and discoveries were made here which helped finalize the model by which we explain the behavior of elementary particles, Dmitri Denisov, a Fermilab scientist, told Fox News. That's over 1,000 papers published, over 1,000 Ph.D.s defended along with the participation of 40 countries around the world.
And Denisov told Fox News that he has quite a lot of data to analyze, which is enough to keep him busy for the next year.
Tevatron's power has been exceeded by an accelerator in Europe. Its magnet technology led to the creation of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17-mile accelerator under the Swiss-French border that got running in November 2009. About a month later, LHC produced a particle beam of 1.18 trillion electron volts, shattering the old record. A bolt of lightning measures about 1 million electron volts.
The LHC is very rapidly outpacing what we could do with the Tevatron, William F. Brinkman, director of the Office of Science at the Energy Department, to The Washington Post.
Nevertheless, there are also efforts to build a new accelerator to study the universe in a new way, that is, by producing the most collisions as opposed to the most powerful. The accelerator would also be capable of producing neutrino beams more intense than anywhere else to help research the particles scientists speculate helped tip the cosmic scales toward a universe made of matter, according to Fox News.
The proposal, which could cost about $2 billion, has no funding yet.
Fermilab hopes that by early next year it can conclude from Tevatron data that either the Higgs boson doesn't exist or that it is still a plausible theory, according to Fox News.