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.


    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora