BATAVIA, Ill. (WBBM/STMW) – The Tevatron — the premier particle accelerator in the world for more than two decades — will be shut down in September at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
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Fermilab Director Pier Oddone announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Energy will not continue funding the accelerator, which is considered outdated technology.
In a message to Fermilab employees, Oddone said the lab received word from the U.S. Department of Energy that “we will not receive funding for the proposed Tevatron extension and consequently the Tevatron will close at the end of [fiscal year] 2011 as was previously planned.”
“The present budgetary climate did not permit [the Department of Energy] to secure the additional funds needed to run the Tevatron for three more years as recommended by the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel,” Oddone said.
The Tevatron was built in 1983. It accelerates protons and antiprotons at 99.999954 percent of the speed of light around a four-mile loop, letting the two beams collide. The results of those collisions allow scientists to study the structure of matter on a very small scale.
In 2009, the CERN laboratory on the French-Swiss border started up an even bigger accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (or LHC), a 17-mile-long ring that displaced the Tevatron as the world’s top accelerator.
“The Tevatron has exceeded all expectations,” Oddone said Monday. “The life of this legendary machine has been marked by historic discoveries made possible by its innovative accelerator and detector technologies.”
In September, Oddone said he hoped to keep the Tevatron open for three more years so they could continue to search for the Higg’s boson, the so-called “God particle” that would explain why objects have mass.
Oddone said Monday scientists working on the Tevatron will switch over to other projects. About 100 people are involved in the operation of the machine itself, and it won’t be known how they will be affected until a couple other budget questions are answered, he said.
He said that Congress still has not passed a continuing funding resolution for the fiscal year which started last Oct. 1, and the lab is waiting to hear what’s in the president’s budget for science in fiscal year 2012.
Oddone noted Fermilab is involved in several other projects of national and international importance, and those will go on without the use of the Tevatron.
“Fermilab is and will remain a very strong part of the LHC program and will continue to pursue physics at the high-energy frontier together with our collaborators at CERN,” he said.
“The Office of Science is committed to maintain our laboratory as a world leader for particle physics research.”
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