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Government Science

Breaking Into the Super Collider 168

Posted by Soulskill
from the checking-for-black-holes dept.
BuzzSkyline writes "A group of physicists went AWOL from the American Physical Society conference in Dallas this week to explore the ruins of the nearby Superconducting Super Collider. The SSC was to be the world's largest and most ambitious physics experiment. It would have been bigger than the LHC and run at triple the energy. But the budget ran out of control and the project was scrapped in 1993."
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Breaking Into the Super Collider

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 25, 2011 @05:40PM (#35617086)

    While expensive, the budget was not out of control. Gingrich & Co killed the SSC for ideological reasons.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 25, 2011 @05:42PM (#35617110)

    " But the budget ran out of control and the project was scrapped in 1993."

    No, it was killed by the politics of high-energy physics. In a nutshell, those working at the competing research sites who lost the bid to be the SSC location, basically got their congressmen to fight and kill the SSC project.

  • By comparison (Score:5, Informative)

    by Helpadingoatemybaby (629248) on Friday March 25, 2011 @05:47PM (#35617154)
    To put it in perspective, the supercollider cost about $8 billion over ALL its years. By contrast the nuclear fission industry received $38 billion in taxpayer loan guarantees in a single year, and the CBO projects that it will default on more than half of them. That's about $20 billion in taxpayer money. In one year. And that doesn't include direct subsidies, the eight year federal tax credit, the $2 billion dollar cost overrun fund, and debt waivers.
  • Re:Edit (Score:5, Informative)

    by butalearner (1235200) on Friday March 25, 2011 @05:49PM (#35617192)

    Actually despite initial reservations, Clinton urged Congress to continue funding it. Congress opted not to do so due to costs associated with developing the ISS.

    Unrelated note: if you haven't clicked on TFA, you should. Don't worry, it's mostly pictures.

  • by kav2k (1545689) on Friday March 25, 2011 @05:59PM (#35617276)

    For comparison, here are the photos of a similar abandoned Russian project (Google-translated):

    Post 1 [google.com] Post 2 [google.com]

    Note that the construction site is preserved rather than completely abandoned.

    Wikipedia link [wikipedia.org]

  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Friday March 25, 2011 @06:06PM (#35617326) Journal

    Also, this thing was turning into a white elephant - between mismanagement by the physicists

    The problem was not physicists but politicians. Large colliders like the LHC and SSC require a chain of accelerators of increasing energy to inject protons into them. The US already has just such a chain but in Fermilab near Chicago, not in the middle of Texas. As I understand it the decision to move the SSC from Illinois to Texas was made by politicians for political reasons. Since the entire lower energy accelerator complex had to be built from scratch in Texas this literally doubled the cost of the project.

    The damage to US physics goes well beyond the loss of the project though. There were many non-US groups involved in the SSC and its cancellation has meant that many are extremely adamant that future international accelerator projects should not be built in the US due to a complete lack of faith in the US funding system.

  • by rabbit994 (686936) on Friday March 25, 2011 @06:51PM (#35617740)

    Too bad Gingrich and Company didn't take command of Congress till 1994 and it was cancelled in 93. Democrats killed this one.

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