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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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  • Great thinking. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Friday March 25, 2011 @04:34PM (#35617034)

    So, instead of the project being an over budget waste, they canned it so it could be a complete waste with no return. Brilliant.

  • Re:Great thinking. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 25, 2011 @04:41PM (#35617100)

    So, instead of the project being an over budget waste, they canned it so it could be a complete waste with no return. Brilliant.

    See: Sunk Costs [wikipedia.org]

    Also, this thing was turning into a white elephant - between mismanagement by the physicists and cost over-runs (gee, from Government contractors?!? No way!) this was going to turn into a huge money pit. Anyway, the Europeans did it better

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 25, 2011 @04:54PM (#35617222)

    Reagan and his band of merry dolts didn't mind running the nation into massive deficit to give tax cuts to the rich and let the military run wild, but they couldn't allow spending on a science facility that might have actually gotten us somewhere. That wouldn't be as wise as giving corporations tax breaks to ship their factories overseas...(for the irony impaired, that was ironic).

    Imagine if we already FOUND the Biggs particle, or the graviton, or figured out how to control the magnetic bottle around fusion. Twenty-plus years of research was lost so we could "save money", money we pissed away instead to cause the first tsunami of our current massive deficits.

    It's "Keynesian nonsense" when the left does deficit spending; it's the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981" or the "Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001" when the right does it. Sigh... And always remember the "Tax Reform Act of 1986", billed by Reagan as "tax simplification", but where we lost the deduction for interest on consumer loans. Simplification my left testicle...

    There is a special circle in hell for that bunch of idiots.

  • The Numbers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday March 25, 2011 @05:04PM (#35617312)
    So for an additional 8 billion dollars, we could have had this incredible science resource. The hundreds of billions spend on bail outs and trillions spent on wars since then puts that and our current priorities in perspective.
  • by Bemopolis (698691) on Friday March 25, 2011 @05:26PM (#35617516)
    It's bad enough what they *wanted* to call it — The Ronald Reagan Center for High Energy Physics (presumably for his previous work in the field of deciduous pollution vectors and the Grand Unification Theory of Vegetables and Condiments. Look it up, kids.)

    And that was the same year that Richard Feynman died.
  • Re:By comparison (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) <myfirstnameispaul@gmail.com> on Friday March 25, 2011 @05:34PM (#35617582) Homepage Journal
    Dude, they're all the same party. Do you see the Democrats making moves to stop any of those goings-on?
  • False dichotomy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Friday March 25, 2011 @05:59PM (#35617792) Journal

    It wasn't a choice between ISS and SSC.

    We could have bought 5 SSC's for what it cost to develop and field the F-22.

    And, at current estimates, not doing F-35 could have built 80 SSCs.

    Never underestimate the sophistry of lobbyists trading off your money for their goals.

  • by DCFusor (1763438) on Friday March 25, 2011 @06:04PM (#35617852) Homepage
    A serious series of failures to be able to actually make magnets and detectors to the specs physicists made -- was what really did it. They promised a lot more than it turned out they could deliver, and proved that by not delivering on the preliminary prototypes, and after spending money ahead of schedule.

    For once, the politicians did the right thing, actually. These clowns weren't even in the same class as the guys are CERN. Hate to say it, I'm American and wish it were otherwise, but really, go read the reports. This was a bunch of people who thought conceptually trivial meant actually trivial. Nope, and most people outside ivory towers know that. Even some politicians.

  • by woboyle (1044168) on Friday March 25, 2011 @06:42PM (#35618158)
    As far as I understood it, the budget was pretty well under control. It's just that the Republican Congress did not want to spend $$ on basic research. My wife was working on it, and if it had gone ahead, we would have been in Austin, TX. instead of Batavia, IL where my wife is a physicist at Fermi Lab. My father, also a physicist, was involved as well, but he was trying to get the collider to be situated in Colorado, where he worked... :-)
  • Re:The Numbers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday March 25, 2011 @06:49PM (#35618208) Homepage

    I am not 100% sure how having a bigger particle accelerator peen is that much better

    Okay, let me spell it out for you in terms having nothing to do with the size of America's wang (and how did Florida enter the conversation anyway?):

    A particle accelerator 3 times as powerful as the design spec for the LHC, 15-20 years earlier.

    It's not about pride, it's about physics. Physics that requires high energies to explore. We're still waiting for the LHC to answer questions that we could have answered over a decade ago, and there are other questions the LHC can't answer which the SSC could have.

    Instead, here we are in 2011, still waiting to find out if a fundamental prediction of our current physics will be borne out or if we need to rework it entirely. Just like we have been for decades.

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow

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