As since the 1980s, the Chicago based Fermilab has been the leader of high-energy physics, in large part thanks to the Tevatron which was the first machine which reached the energies to discover the last quark in the elusive Standard Model. However the Tevatron has come to the end of its life as at 2pm on Friday September 30th, it will be shut down for the last time.
This move will shift the focus of physicists’ to across the Atlantic, and on the new darling being the shiny Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. As the LHC is likely to enjoy a long life at the top of the particle physics heap, however in time it too will be superseded by the next big thing. However what is it that might come next?
With any luck the now unemployed Fermilab scientists might get their way as particle physics could migrate from the world of hadrons to that of muons. Yet the path to getting there will take not only time, along with serious research, but also one of my favorites being the application of time-dilating relativity.
However as enticing this may be, it has been preceded by a series of bad options starting with the cancellation of the American Superconducting Supercollider (SSC) in the 1990s which gave particle physics here the states a solid kick in the man jewels. As even with CERN taking the lead, It still took over a decade for the next big accelerator (LHC) to be built. Yet even when it reaches the ability to operate at maximum power, it still won’t reach the energies once planned for the mighty SSC.
Additionally the LHC is also fundamentally restricted as its built in tunnels originally designed for an earlier collider and required financial input from just about every country with a physics program to speak of. Which leaves us with the harsh question which is whether any machine more powerful than the LHC can or will ever be built.
Yet necessity is also the mother of invention as It has also forced scientists to ponder other new and interesting ways to get particles up to high energies using approaches which are out of the box from the ones used by their forefathers.
Yet all of this is still well off into the future and if it took over a decade to build the world’s largest machine (LHC) then should America want to jump back in with the SSC, it would not be seen in the life time of many reading this post. However you know what this means? Yes we are now a “follower”, we are no longer a leader as over the past several decades we have let go of our leadership reins. While yes you can’t always be the leader all the time, and in everything. However as a world leader you must be a leader in many things and often (this is what makes you a leader).
Also Mr. Obama, science is the great economic engine of a country, not road construction, or public welfare programs as yes a project like the SSC comes with a major price tag! However it also comes with major returns as this will lead to high paying domestic job growth, which will lead to foreign investment as they won’t want to be left out of the discoveries, which means money coming back to American shores as Mr. Obama this is why capitalism works and socialism fails as those who do are reward and those don’t and sit on the obese backside to enjoy the Jerry Springer show should not…