Tough budgetary times spare no one, not even the last best hope of American researchers discovering the "god particle" on their home soil. Rumblings and rumors surfaced early yesterday that Fermilab's Tevatron would not receive an extension to continue operations until 2014, and by later in the afternoon it was confirmed by the DOE's science office: Tevatron will cease operations before the end of this year.
"The current budgetary climate is very challenging," the director of the DOE's Office of Science, William Brinkman, stated in a letter to the chairman of the High Energy Physics (HEP) Advisory Panel dated January 6, in which he effectively (and reluctantly) determined that Tevatron would shut down as scheduled this year.
The friendly rivalry between Tevatron and CERN's Large Hadron Collider had been ratcheting up recently as both are in hot pursuit of the theoretical Higgs boson, the so-called "god particle" that is thought to imbue all other particles with mass. It's discovery would provide a huge and necessary piece of the puzzle in the Standard Model of particle physics and naturally would be a feather in any laboratory's cap.
Tevatron discovered the b quark in 1977, meaning that a top quark must also be out there somewhere along with the W and Z bosons. CERN beat Tevatron to the W and Z bosons but Fermilab's researchers scored a coup by charging back into the race by confirming the top quark. Since the LHC – the largest and most expensive science experiment in the known universe – went into operation, the two accelerators have been racing toward confirmation (or denial) of the Higgs' existence.
Tevatron could still find the Higgs before it shuts down, but the odds aren't great. That means the LHC will likely take those honors sometime in the future. But the DOE's High Energy Physics program is by no means out of funds or short on science – their budgetary decision was based on the need to further develop other programs. The HEP program has several mandates, of which the Energy Frontier is only one.
There are plenty of U.S. researchers contributing at the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the LHC, Brinkman says, and the exploration of the energy frontier will fall to CERN with HEP's and DOE's support. But the mandate for HEP will now shift to exploring the Intensity Frontier via other energy beam research that will complement whatever the LHC finds.
In other words Tevatron and the LHC were kind of redundant, and the DOE and HEP program are respectfully bowing out of the Higgs race to focus on other aspects of particle physics that aren't already being probed by more powerful experiments elsewhere in the world. It's a letdown for those who wanted to see Tevatron find the Higgs first, but it's a practical move that will keep science moving forward while keeping Fermilab and it's HEP program at the forefront of particle physics.
Discover's Cosmic Variance blog has a nice history-rich eulogy that's worth a read for further background on Tevatron and its healthy rivalry with CERN.
I wonder if there is enough interest in projects like these being done on American soil to get private funding.
I'm sorta glad this project has been put off for a bit, smashing particles together at high speed sorta makes me feel uneasy.
applied for a job there once, didn't get it. This is their punishment.
So they will start building something new now there right? A different Science experiment was planned.
LOL LO Hollycow, holy hell that made me spit coffee outta my mouth, thank you for that.
This makes me sad they are ending this tho, oh well I'm on TeamCern.
The particle flux from experimental physics machines is small both in the number of particles and in their energy compared to the large number of hugely energetic particles coming in from deep space all the time.
You think this is depressing? Wait 'til you see what survives the budget cuts.
From the beginning, many people still believe in the creation of God. As this, they are providing evidences for this fact. However, describing the building blocks of creation has been beyond the full ability of science and religion thus far. This is until now, probably. Currently, Fermilab in Illinois - also as Cern labs in Switzerland - claim to have discovered the “God particle”. With the Tevatron Large Hadron Collider, Fermilab discovered a group of the subtle Higgs boson particle that has continued to be invisible to human understanding for millions of years. Check this out for more information: <a title="Scientists announce finding of sought-after God particle" href="http://www.newsytype.com/9311-higgs-boson-god-particle/">Higgs boson breakthrough hailed as window unto creation</a>.