Friday, June 24, 2011

High Cost For Underground Physics Experiments

The cost for building a suite of underground physics experiments has come in, and it isn't pretty.

So DOE's Office of Science asked a committee led by Jay Marx of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena to evaluate the costs and risks of different options for the three main experiments slated for Homestake. The first is a gigantic particle detector known as the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE) to snare particles called neutrinos fired from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), 1300 kilometers away in Batavia, Illinois. The second is a detector weighing several tons to spot particles of the mysterious dark matter whose gravity appears to bind the galaxies. The third is a detector weighing at least a ton that would search for a revolutionary form of radioactivity called neutrinoless double beta decay.

The cost for building LBNE and the Homestake Mines is estimated to be between $1.2 to $1.5 billion, while the costs for the dark matter and neutrinoless double beta decay experiment will be $300 and $400 million, respectively.

It's a daunting issue considering that the whole physics community in the US are expecting flat to lower budgets for the next several years. High energy physics certainly is a tough sell on any given year, but the next few years will certainly be a tremendous challenge and could affect the future of high energy physics experiments in the US as the Tevatron retires.


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