A group of scientists is reluctantly recommending that the U.S. shut off its last giant atom smasher, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory, in the face of declining federal funds. With the Tevatron at Fermilab dismantled, RHIC represented a last bastion of high-energy particle colliding in this country. It must be sacrificed so that other particle acceleration projects might live.
Like its name implies, RHIC smashes heavy ions together at incredible speeds, which produces super-hot temperatures that melt the building blocks of atoms. As protons and neutrons break apart, their constituent parts, gluons and quarks, form a new state of matter called a quark-gluon plasma. This particle soup is so hot--250,000 times hotter than the center of the sun--that the unchained particles behave in very strange ways, which can give physicists clues about the way the universe coalesced after the Big Bang. RHIC achieved this scorching state of matter in 2010. But not long after that came the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, which usually smashes protons but is also capable of colliding heavy particles. The LHC is more powerful and has also produced a quark-gluon plasma.
Back in 2007, the Department of Energy's Nuclear Science Advisory Committee wrote up a long-range plan for the future of high-energy physics in this country. (DOE manages nuclear research.) The plan called for upgrades to RHIC, upgrades to a project called the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia, and a new facility to be built in Michigan, called the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. But now there's not enough money to pay for all of that.
Ultimately, the advisory group decided that recent investment in CEBAF shouldn't go to waste, which means they had to decide between keeping RHIC alive and starting on the rare isotope project. Yesterday, they recommended going with FRIB.
It all boils down to money, and there's just not enough to go around. And deep cuts in federal spending known as sequestration, which might happen if Congress does not get its act together, haven't even happened yet. But RHIC supporters are not giving up yet, as Science Insider notes. The DOE still has to approve the recommendations.
As far as Im concerned being at the cutting edge of science is a matter of national defense. we simply can not afford to fall behind in education and science.
It blows my mind how much money we spend on things that arent necessary, how many fighter jets would it take to close the funding gap for this research?
If only more people shared your perspective. Scientific and technical innovation is the foundation of modern economies.
Sometimes I wonder why my peers are more interested in the brands of beers than the colors of quarks.
-Coming from a teenager sitting in class eavesdropping in a conversation.
In Asimov's Foundation series, the Second Empire gains strength first through technological superiority, then through manufacturing, and again through trade and commerce.
The preceding empire crumbles apart into a state of barbarianism due to increasing war expenditures, and a decrepit manufacturing base.
Does art imitate life, or can life imitate art?
No. This is all not relevant Republicans say. Defense spending needs to be defended. Who cares if Europe slowly takes over in physics, astronomy, high speed rail and other solid infrastructure or other high tech innovation. It's not relevant.
What is relevent is the military, our guns, banning and rediculing gays, defending tax atvantage for the wealthiest, more oil drilling, a war with Iran to ''defend'' Israel. In other words, all the things that lead to success and prosperity.
There are so many reasons that science isn't a national priority, it's hard to say which one is the most damaging. Creationist and climate change denier republicans on the science committee is a big one. The republican party as a whole needs to get their priority's in check. The democratic party talks a good game but often lack the spine to combat the legions of the 'party of stupid'. We do spend way too much on defense, but too few of us complain, and that money will never go to science and education. Mostly though, it's our own fault. As a whole, we're lazy. Sorry to shatter the American exceptionalism complex of some of you, but it's the god's honest truth. I'm sure you can give me anecdotal evidence on how we're the hardest working, most innovative, bla bla bla. We're lazy. Math and science are hard, and it's much easier to buy our technology that makes us feel advanced than it is to make it, or improve upon it, or contribute in any way other than just buying it. Our obsession with being #1 (whatever the heck that really means) makes us paranoid, thus the out of control defense spending. As a nation, we have GOT to grow up. Ditch the guns, bibles and the king of the hill attitude, focus on reality, get back to the basics of education, improving life for all of us, and national pride that is centered around achievement, progress and empathy, not who's got the biggest military or which politician believes in the bible harder.
@GregN913 you make a great point, but Asimov was simply analyzing previous empires. The human mind is inspired by our environment, at the most bssic level nature therefore it cannot influence life because life itself is where it originates.
America slowly eclipsing.
Sell it to a foreign government, we are selling off our civilian and military technology - might as well give them our science too.
Dan Nosowitz, sir,
Now would be the time to use the word moth.
"Oh look, the government is cutting back on their budget and putting the colliders in storage with moth balls!", lol.
Take care Dan. ;)
Entitlement spending accounts for 61.9% of the federal budget compared to 18.7% on defense.(Fraser) You could cut back on military spending but the amount saved would be miniscule compared to reducing spending on citizens who don't attribute anything to the country than increasing its population by reproducing. The issues the media seems to report on are the hot topics. Before the New Year you couldn't look at a media provider without seeing an article on the "Fiscal Cliff"!!! What happened to that? The government put a temporary "bandage" over the situation without solving anything, removing it from the public’s eyes. Now it’s all gun control and Immigration reform. I believe everyone on this site would agree that we have larger problems for our future than removing 3 bullets from a magazine. I'm not saying there shouldn't be reform, but how can a bill be passed within days of a tragic event, but a foreseeable degrade is impossible to fix. Lets open our eyes a little wider to see the bigger picture, not democratic or republican. If you ask me they all have there heads in places generally reserved as an exit only.
Fraiser, Alison; Federal Spending by Numbers - 2012; The Heritage Foundation; October 16, 2012; www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/10/federal-spending-by-the-numbers-2012