News / Science & Technology

US Retires Its Pioneering Tevatron Atom-Smasher

US Department of Energy’s Fermilab
US Department of Energy’s Fermilab
Rob SivakKane Farabaugh

A 26-year search for the keys to understanding the universe has come to an end at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab in suburban Chicago. The Tevatron Accelerator, one of the world's largest sub-atomic particle colliders, went offline permanently Friday. The Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, near Geneva, Switzerland, will take over one of the Tevatron's most important projects, tracking down the so-called “God Particle.”

For more than 15 years, physicist Robert Roser has searched for the elusive “Higgs Boson.”

“The Higgs Boson is a hypothetical particle that we believe exists to fix a flaw in the standard model," said Roser. "The standard model, to us, is our mathematical description of how the universe works.  The significant flaw in that model is that it doesn’t explain mass.”

Roser says the discovery of the Higgs Boson - known to many as the “God Particle” - could give scientists the answers they seek to some of humankind's biggest questions.

“We’re asking the question of how the universe works, and why is it built the way it is built?" he said.

To find the Higgs Boson at Fermilab, scientists have used the Tevatron's 6.5 - kilometer - long ring to slam protons and anti-protons together at near-light speeds.  In the burst of superheated particles that resulted, scientists looked for clues that the Higgs Boson exists.  

That elusive particle has not yet been found.  But since 1985, the Tevatron has made thousands of major discoveries, and in 1995 found one of the most fundamental bits of matter in the universe, known as the "top quark."

Still, past triumphs could not save the Tevatron from the reality of rising research costs and tighter budgets:  

“All good things will come to an end, and this will be the end for the Tevatron," said Pier Oddone.

Pier Oddone is the Director of Fermilab.  He says the funding needed to continue the kind of research that would lead to the Higgs Boson, if it exists at all, exceeds Fermilab’s $400 million annual budget.

“It is one third the budget of the laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland," he said.

The CERN laboratory in Geneva is home to the Large Hadron Collider.  Built in collaboration with Fermilab, it is a more powerful device than the Tevatron Accelerator.  With the Tevatron offline, the center of activity in this area of physics moves from the United States to Europe.

“In this last two decades that has shifted where the facility in Geneva went ahead and built this formidable machine, which we were trying to build in Texas called the Superconducting Supercollider," said Oddone. " We closed ours but the Europeans went ahead with theirs, and that is what has led to this differentiation now in the funding of laboratories.”

But even without the Tevatron, the U.S. is still well-represented in the field of particle physics.  Since the Tevatron began colliding, Fermilab scientist Robert Roser says it has been an international effort, and that effort will continue as the search goes on in Geneva.   

“There’s 15 nations that are participating on this experiment," he said. "Roughly 300 of the 600 collaborators on this experiment are from non-U.S. institutions.  So it’s very much a large multi-national or international collaboration.  All big science is these days.”

Even offline, the Tevatron will continue to play a role at Fermilab.  Engineers plan to open previously inaccessible parts of the collider tunnel, where they will display part of the accelerator and detectors in an exhibit the public can visit.

You May Like

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid