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

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
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 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 Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
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.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid