Friday, September 11, 2009

The Last Days of the Tevatron

This Wired article examines not only the history of experimental high energy physics, but also the competition between the US and Europe in making the first discoveries in elementary particle physics.

High-energy particle physicists around the world are collectively holding their breath waiting for the Large Hadron Collider to come online and start unlocking the most elusive secrets of the universe. It’s as if time is standing still until their shiny new toy is ready to play with.

But not at Fermilab. Here, physicists are in the scientific equivalent of an all-out sprint, still clinging to the ever-thinning hope that before the LHC ramps up to full power, their own 28-year old particle collider, the Tevatron, will catch the coveted Higgs boson, a theoretical particle that is at the heart of the Standard Model of physics.

Along the way, the argicle described the heartbreak and cancellations of facilities such as ISABELLE (fondly named "WAS-A-BELLE" by many at Brookhaven nowadays) and the infamous SSC.

Time will only tell if the Tevatron will find something as the last big hurray as it sails into the sunset and physics history. Till then, full speed ahead....


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