Congressional Research Service
The Library of Congress
SUPERCONDUCTING SUPER COLLIDER: ISSUES
I P 384s
I n J a n u a r y 1987, P r e s i d e n t Reagan asked Congress t o a u t h o r i z e cons t r u c t i o n of a Superconducting Super C o l l i d e r , a p a r t i c l e a c c e l e r a t o r t o
be used by p h y s i c i s t s t o s t u d y t h e s m a l l e s t p a r t i c l e s of m a t t e r . The
p r o j e c t w i l l c o s t b i l l i o n s of d o l l a r s , though even i t s s u p p o r t e r s admit
t h a t i t may n o t produce any immediate comnercial o r m i l i t a r y b e n e f i t s .
The S u p e r c o n d u c t i n g Super C o l l i d e r would advance man's knowledge i n t h e
f i e l d of h i g h e n e r g y p h y s i c s , i n c l u d i n g t h e t e s t i n g of t h e o r i e s r e g a r d i n g t h e b e g i n n i n g of t h e u n i v e r s e and t h e composition of m a t t e r . T h i s
I n f o Pack g i v e s background i n f o r m a t i o n on t h e p r o s and c o n s of b u i l d i n g
t h e S u p e r c o n d u c t i n g Super C o l l i d e r .
Members of Congress who want a d d i t i o n a l i n f o r m a t i o n on t h i s t o p i c
can c a l l CRS a t 287-5700.
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Guide t o CRS P r o d u c t s ( f o r c o n g r e s s i o n a l u s e o n l y ) under " ~ e s e a r c hand
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of i n d e x e s s u c h a s t h e R e a d e r s ' Guide t o P e r i o d i c a l L i t e r a t u r e , P u b l i c
A f f a i r s I n f o r m a t i o n S e r v i c e B u l l e t i n (PAIS), General S c i e n c e I n d e x , and
t h e New York Times Index.
e hope t h i s i n f o r m a t i o n i s h e l p f u l .
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May 1986, pp.8,9,10,11
The case for the super collider
The enormous recent progress in particle physics is directly related to the
power of accelerators. The next stage requires a superconducting super
collider, a project the author believes the US. government should support.
by James W Cronin
HYSICISTS engaged in the study of the fundamental
constituents of matter and their interactions have rtcrntly proposed the construction of a panicle accelerator which
will cost about $4 billion. Panicle accelerators are the essential tools that enable physicists to discover the most elementary forms of matter and the nature of their interactions. The new instrument, called the Superconducting
Super Collider (SSC), will be required if funher progress
is to be made in this most fundamental field of science.
This proposal raises questions of national science policy
because of the large expense of the project. Among such
questions are the following: How would the instrument
benefit the people of this nation? Is it even the business of
the US. gcmrnment to support such a project? Among
many large scientific projects why choose this particular
one? What would be the impact on other scientific fields
if such an instrument were built? Should it be built by an
international collaboration? Haw can one be sure anything
important will be learned with this instrument?
The SSC proposal is the m u l t of the enormous growth
in our understanding of the fundamental constituents of .
matter. This study was resumed 40 years ago after World
War I1 by many of the physicists who had participated in
the Manhattan Project. At that time the fundamental constituents of matter were thought to be the neutron and the
proton, which comprised the atomic nudeus, and the electrons which formed the outer shells of the atom. Other particles were observed in cosmic radiation, but the role they
played was not understood until particle accelerators were
used to produce them directly in the laboratory by collisions of the accelerated protons or electrons with statlonary
targets. Today we know that the neutron and proton are
complex structures comprised of apparently more fundamental constituents called quarks.
Forry p a r s ago there appeared to be four basic forces:
the strong force, which bound the neutrons and protons
into atomic nuclei; the electromagnetic fow, which bound
the electrons to the atomic nucleus to form the atoms; the
weak force, which is responsible for radioactivity; and the
We now know that the weak and elemmagnetic forces
have a common source. We understand the nature of the
James W. Cronin, University Pmfessor of P h y at the Univmity
of Chicog4 received the Nobel Riu in physics in 1980.
strong force and suspect t h d t it has a common ongin \rich
the wreak 2nd electromagnetic forces. We understmd the
important role that the fundamental constituents m d their
interactions hme played in the evolution of the universe following the "big bang." Fmally, at a deepl!. rheoretic~lle\el,
very compelling ideas are being developed tvhich suggest
a common origin to all four forces.
It is in the context of these successes and the new questions they raise that the SSC proposal has been made. Most
of our current understanding about the fundamental nature
of matter has come from the use of particle accelerators
of ever-increasing energy. In recent years accelerator builders have developed techniques in which two counter-rotating
beams of charged panicles can be brought into collision
with one another. Such collisions make much more effective
use of energy than do collisions with stationary targets. As
the energy of the panicle accelerators has increased, so has
At prexnt in the United States there are four major highenergy accelerator centers (see table). The total capital investment in these facilities is in excess of S2 billiun, and
This Image from the "streamer chamber" of the CERN cdllder In Geneva
shorn streams of subparttcles burst~ngout from a collls~onbetween
a proton and an anbproton A proton collis~onat the Proposed SSC would
generate at least five t~mesas many parttcles as the CERN appartus The
photograph was taken In a coll~wondetector durlng CERN's UA-5 expertrnenl. conducted by an tnternatloMl consortium of phrjtctsts from Bonn.
Brussels. Cambridge (England). CERN,and Stockholm ( c a r n e ~ y ~ a mws
mR d I & w k d
Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science
Reproduced by the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service with Permission
of copyright claimant.
The SuperconductingSuper Collider (SSC)
S S C anatomy (For wale drawing, see map at bottom right.)
Operation of injection system
Injection system loading protons
into clockwisebeam pipe of main
Power supply and liquid helium refrigeation unit
Interactionpoint and associated recordingcollisiondetectors
Interaction hall housing interactionpoint
Injection system loading protons
into counterclockwise beam pipe
of main ring
Locations of superconducting magnets
15 to 20 buildingcampus
/ and offices
Main ring sustaining dual proton beams
- IThe size and power of the underground SSC
would ailow narrow beams of protons to collide
at almost the speed of light, creating new subatomic particles observable only at very high
vnergies that cannot be attained by existing
accelerators. This diagram tracks the path of
proton beams. Protons are produced by the
ionization of hydrogen atoms.
The injection system (upper right), composed
of a linear accelerator and three progressively
larger circular energy boosten, prepares the
protons for the main-ringcollisions by accelerating them to higher and higherenergies.Some
protons are loaded into the clockwise beam
pipe (green), then others into the counterclockwise one (black).
Inside the main ring (see central schematics).
acceleratmg units speed the protons to 20 times
their energy. The protons are guided in the
highenergy booster and main ring by about
10,000 powerful superconducting magnets,
refrigerated by liquid helium to 4.35" Kelvin
(about 270" centigrade, -455' Fahrenheit).
The magnets maintain the beams on their circular paths; special magnets near the interaction points force collisions between protons
traveling in opposite directions. Detection
apparatuses at each collision site will measure
the energy released by the collisions and will
trace the paths of particles produced by the
collisions. By creating Isvelsof energy similar to
those of the "big bang," scientists hopeto learn
about the fundamental laws of nature that
guided the creation of the universe.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
24 km (15 miles)
the annual operating budget is about 5600 million per year.
A larger level of activity exists in Western Europe, as well
as a comparable effort in the Soviet Union. And Japan has
significantly increased its investment in high-enexgy physics.
The SSC would consist of two concentric magnetic guide
fields for protons.' The magnets would be placed in a 60mile circumference tunnel bored about 30 meters below the
surface. The guide fields would intersect at a number of
points to allow the counter-rotating beams of protons to
collide with energies 20 times greater than now available.
'Charged p a r t i c l a such as protons arc deflected by magnetic fields. An
arrangement o f electromagnets surrounding an evacuated pipe can produce a magnetic guide field which maintains the protons in a circulu orbit
inside the pipe. Elecuical i m p u l x s add rnergy t o rhe p v d d e on erh orbit.
As the energy of the protons increases, the strength o f the magnetic guide
field must be increased t o keep the proton orbit w i t h i n the pipe.
The world's major high-energy
Detectors surrounding the collision point would study the
result of the interactions.
Coincident with the scientific need for the SSC has been
the development and successful implementation of superconducting magnets for accelerator guide fields. These
magnets can produce a guide field three times larger than
a conventional iron electromagnet. This means that the cir. cumference of the SSC can be one-third the size of an accelerator built with iron magnets. In addition, the electrical
current flows in the superconducting windings of the magnets without dissipation of power. Power does have to be
supplied for refrigeration since the superconducting property occurs only at liquid helium temperatures (four degrees
above absolute zero). This power is only a fraction of what
would have been required without superconductivity.
The combination of the scientific imperative for the SSC
with the technical feasibility of its construction makes this
project the prime goal of the high-energy physicists. Yet the
huge cost of the project inevitably attracts national attention.
(GeV: Giga electron volt, an energy unit used to measure the
mass of subatomic particles. With E=mc2, the mass of the proton
is about one GeW
SHOULDTHIS expensive scientific project go
ahead? It is difficult to argue that there are any immediate
benefits to be felt by the whole population. It should proceed for the simple reason that the exploration and understanding of nature have consistently advanced civilization
and are one of its prime features. Discoveries made in the
course of fundamental scientific investigations have in time
led to new technologies which have profoundly affected life
on this planet. One can point to the development of electricity as a power source,at the end of the nineteenth century, which was based on discoveries made in the eighteenth
and early nineteenth centuries. The development of fast
computers can be traced back to investigations of the fundamental properties of solid state materials which were suggested by the discovery of quantum phenomena in the early
I personally believe there are even deeper reasons to support the construction of the SSC. The intellectual achievements of humanity in its relatively brief time on earth are
almost beyond belief. Furthermore, they are among the
most positive aspects of human nature. The spirit of a nation and the pride of its people can only be enhanced when
science, Including the exploration of our planet, solar system, galaxy, and universe is among its highest priorities.
The United States is a strong nation, with the intellectual
and economic resources to execute major scientific projects.
Thew projects should emphasize the gain of basic knowledge without regard to immediate mum on investment. EXperience from the past amply documents the long-term
benefits. Such idealistic goals are not without practical consequences. A higher priority for fundamental science will
naturally improve the level of education. Young ~ e o p l with
normal curiosity will be encouraged to take science more
seriously. The ~ o oofl people prepared to enter a technologically dominated society will be enlarged.
Even in a nation that places a high priority on fundamen-
Proposed superconducting supercollider (United
20,000GeV protons colliding with 20,000Gdl prohMs W)
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Batavia, Illinois
900 GeV protons on a stationary target
900 GeV protons colliding w~th900 GeV antiprotons
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford, California
15 GeV electrons colliding with 15 GeV positrons
M GeV electrons colliding wkh M GeV pos~trons(1987)
Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York
28 GeV protons on a stationary target
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
5 GeV electrons colliding with 5 GeV positrons
European Organization for Nuclear Research [CERN], Geneva
450 GeV protons on stationary targets
330 GeV protons colliding with 330 GeV ant~protons
50 GeV electrons colhdlng wlth 50 GeV positrons
German Electron Synchroton Laboratory, Hamburg, West Germany
5 GeV electrons coll~dingwlth 5 GeV positrons
23 GeV electrons collidmg w~th23 GeV positrons
30 GeV electrons colliding w~th800 GeV protons (1990)
Institute of Nuclear Physics, Novosibirsk
5 GeV electrons colliding with 5 GeV positrons
Institute for High Energy Physics, Serpukhov
70 GeV protons on a stationary target
3,000GeV protons on a stationary tatget (1990)
3,000 GeV protons colliding with 3,KlO antiprotons 0995)
National Laboratory for High Energy Physics, Tsukuba-gun, Japan
35 GeV electrons colliding with 35 GeV positrons 0
tal science, a project on the scale of the SSC cannot proctcd
without scrutiny. Aside from economic factors, the proponents of the SSC should be able to convince scientific colleagues in other disciplines of the intellectual value ofthe
project and thereby gain their support. Moreover, we must
convince our elected representatives of the value of the
project in these general terms. We arc probing the most fundamental building blocks of matter and the nature ofthe
interactions among them. V% have already made enormous
progress and are proposing to build this large new machine
because we are confident that we will learn a great deal
more. The technology to build the SSC exists and has been
demonstrated to work effectively.
The size of the project- $4 billion spent over sewn p r s
of construction is not large on the scale of government
expenditures. However, because of its lack of immediate
economic benefit, it is inconceivable that it would be built
without government support. It has been suggested that the
SSC could be built by international collaboration with WSe m Europe, Japan, or the Soviet Union.
Although these suggestions have some merit, in praaice
long delays will be required before such a collaboration can
be realized. At present, both Western Europe and the Soviet
Union have commitments to build new acceleratorscomplementary to the SSC. An international agmment to scablish an intercontinental laboratory and bcgm construction
of an SSC could only occur well after 1990. If an hmrcontinental collaboration w r e to be formed, the site of the
machine could be chosen outside the United States. In such
a situation it may be difficult for the US. government to
agree to pay for its share (about SO percent) of the fadlity.
Significant international contributions to the SSC, esped?ily
in the intellectual resources of people, will occur if the
Unired States decides to proceed with the project on its own.
Consideration of international support is very important
to scientific colleagues in other fields. While they can be
convinced of the intellectual value of the SSC, they are mcerned that funding by the United States alone will bave
an adverse impact on their own fields. In the past, as the
support of panicle physics has grown or d e d significantly, there has been no evidence that other scientific fields have
suffered, or profited. The principal criterion for support
of any field of science has been its intellectual vitality.
Many critics ask how one can be sure that this new instrument will lead to new fundamental knowledge. As with
any new accelerator of higher energy, there are no guarantees. Nonetheless, the single most important parameter responsible for the enormous progress in particle physics has
been the energy of the accelerator. The pace of discovery
has been a consequence of the steady increase in the enugy
of panicle collisions provided by the accelerator. While previous accelerators have provided answers to the scientific
questions which they were specifically designed to address,
the most important discoveries have been those that w r e
completely unanticipated. If we wish ultimately to understand the properties of the fundamental building blocks of
nature, the SSC will have to be built. 0
Bulletin of the Atomic Scieatisa
States S ~ e n Millions
in Stiff Competition
te for Proposed ~ u ~ e r b l l i d e r
$4.4-billion, 52-mile circular accelerator would be most expensive federal science project ever
By KIM McDONALD
Rodded by leaders of business and higher education, about two dozen states have
declared their intention to enter the race to
win the largest and most expensive f e d e d
science project ever proposed-a $4.4-billion, 52-mile circular particle accelerator
known as the Superconducting Supercollider.
With promises of creating as many as
4.500 new jobs, atlracting new high-technology ventures, and bringing in billions of
dollars in revenues, the supercollider is
considered a major plum by many state
kgislatures and governors, who are convinced they can win the political battle for
The race oficially began lost week.
when the Energy Department issued a formal invitation for bids. But in many respects the competition was already well
Half a dozen states have spent a year or
more working. on their proposals, and
many more have been lured into risking
large sums of money just to stay in the
"A lot of states are going to end up with
egg on their faces when this is over," said
George Ormiston, associate director of
Nevada's commission on economic development, who is developing his state's proposal. "Only one state is going to end up
with the supercollider."
14 Decide Against Direct Bids
According to a state-by-state survey by
The Chronicle, at least a dozen states arc
gearing up to spend millions of dollars for
geological surveys, environmental reviews, political lobbying efforts, and other
services that are considered necessary for
a successful bid.
As many as 13 states. concemed about
the cost of entering the competition and
the risk that Congress may never approve
the supercollider because of its high price
tag, remain on the sidelines, undecided
over whether to throw their hats into the
Fourteen states have decided against
bidding directly for the project. but many
of them, the survey found. are discussin;
agreements that would allow them to enter
the race through regional coalitions or by
knding their political or financial support
to another state's proposal.
"This is a competition that is unrivaled
in the history of our country," said Christopher Coburn, science-and-techndogy
adviser to the Governor of Ohio. 'The
S.S.C. is a prize that goes beyond money,
new jobs, and economic revival. The state,
that gets this will become the centerpiece
of the commitment of the United States to
improving its scientific and technical corn- '
petitiveness into the next century."
With 10,000 superconducting magnets
accelerating matter to nearly the speed of
light. the supercollider would be 20 times
more powerful than the largest particle accelerator in existencc-the Tevatmn Collider at the Femi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, 111.
Beams of protons would travel in
opposite directions around the supercollider's 52-mile oval tunnel, then
collide in gigantic explosions out of
which massive particles are expected
to emerge. carrying secrets of the universe.
Hightnergy physicists say the supercollider will not only assure U.S.
leadership in their frontier scientific
field, but also produce technological
spinoffs that will improve the country's economic competitiveness in
To politicians, however, particularly those from economically depressed
regions of the country, the main attractions arc the thousands ofjobsand
billions of dollars that the supercollider will generate.
A study done for California's s.s.c.
What States May Spend
to Win the Supercollider
Amount not w i t i d
Amount not specifid
k much as Slmillion
i k n ~
North C . r o l i ~
Amount not qecifted
$750.000 to Slm~lhon
Mom than Slmill~on
Mom ttun Stmillion
task force by the graduate management school at the University of California at Los Angeles estimated that
the winning state would reap 177.000
permanent jobs and $&billion from
1988 to the year t000.
Governors and lieutenant governors of
the leading contenders in the supercollider
competition view the project as so impor-
The Chronicle of Hiqher Education, April 8, 1987, ~ ~ . 4 , 5 , 6
1987 The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inc Reproduced by the Library of Congress,,
Congressional Research Service with permission
tant that many of them will travel to Washington this week to plead for Congressional
approval at a serics of hearings scheduled
in the Senate and House of Representatives.
4 States Thought to Be in h a d
California, Colorado. Illinois, and Texas, which have been developing their pro-
posals for several years in anticipation that
President Reagan would give the supercollider his blessing, are considered to be the
early leaders in the competition.
Other states that have officially announced plans to send proposals to the Department of Energy. which will manage the
supercollider and make the final decision
on its location, are Arizona. Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan.
-Mississippi. Montana. Nevada. New Mexico. New York, North Carolina, Ohio,
Oklahoma. Oregon, South Dakota. Utah.
In announcing Mr. Reagan's decision in
February to wmplete the supercollider by
1996. Energy Secretary John S. Herrington noted that the process for the selection
ofthe site by 1989was "designed to be fair,
equitable to all panies-absolutely open
and above board. "
States planning to submit bids, he said,
would have to demonstrate that their p m
posed site met the necessary geological,
climate, seismic-safety, and other criteria
that are necessary for the wastnrction and
operation of the supercollider. The criteria
were outlined in a 77-page invitation sent
to prospective applicants last week by the
Energy Department's Office of Energy Re.
Bids that meet those qualifications
would then be reviewed by a committee of
the National Academies of Science and
Engineering. The panel would recommend
the best-qualified sites by December, and
by January 1989, following an exhaustive
environmental review of the Energy Department's prefemd site, the Energy Secretary would select and announce the winner.
While Mr. Hemngton denied that his
timetable would provide an advantage to
states that arc well along in-their proposals, some representatives of regions that
have only recently entered the competition
are expected to ask lawmakers at the Congressional hearings this week to put off the
deadline, now set for August 3, to allow
them time to develop competitive proposals.
Loss of Momentum Feared
"I don't see how you can put together a
proposal that early," said one official
working on his state's supercollider bid.
"You've got to have time to get the drilling
permits to survey all the potential sites."
Many proponents of the supercollider,
however. worry that such a delay could
destroy the momentum developing in Congress to approve the project. It may also
allow Mr. Reagan's successor in the White
House to reconsider the government's
commitment to build the device. With
some estimates placing the cost at Mbillion to $8-billion, a number of lawmakers
have already expressed concern about
whether the country can afford to begin
Hoping to counter such opposition, p v ernors, university presidents, business
leaden. Congrrssmco, and scientists arc
expected to try to persuade subcommittocs
of the House Science, Space. and Technology Committee and the Scnatc Energy and
N a n d Resources Committee in this
week's bmrhgs thot tbe m rcctkrptoria
C. William Fischer, vice-president for
budget and finance at the University of
Colorado. said a gmup of Western state
representatives meeting in Boulder several
weeks ago had agreed to work together to
demonstrate at the hearings that the supercollider was necessary to advance the
country's scientificleadership and technological competitiveness.
Advisar Meeting thir Week
"We quick1y came to the conclusion that
you can't have a foot race without a
pritc," he said.
A group of governors' science-and-technology advisers meeting in Washington
this week to discuss the supercollider's
site-selection process may also try to pcrwade Congress to approve the project.
In the hope that one of them will become
the beneficiary of the prize, representatives of the Western states will meet again
at the University of Utah in the first week
in May to discuss the possible formation of
a coalition that would throw their collective political suppon to any member of
their group that reaches the finds.
"If it's located in the high-plains region." said Mr. Fischer, "the benefits
would flow to more than one state."
Although Mr. Hemngton said his selection process would not favor states that
wage the most visible or expensive political campaigns, state and university officials acknowledge that politics will play a
major role in the selection.
Most of the leading contenders have obtained the support of powerful political figures and the services of Washington lobbyists who are being paid as much as
5300.000 a year to represent their clients,
according to several sources.
California. Colorado. Illinois, and Texas
arc among the states that reportedly
have already signed high-priced lobbyists. while Ohio is among those
now negotiating contracts with
Washington firms. Lobbyists see the
high-stakes competition for the supercollider as a lucrative business
and are drumming up as much work
as they can.
"We're being deluged with letters
and phone calls." said Richard
Tremblay, SAC. coordinator for Idaho's Department of Commerce.
Powerful political figures arc also
king asked to take charge of supercdlider commissions. task forces.
and coalitions in each state.
Californip's &ort is haded by
Clair Burgener. an ex-Congressman
.nd former state Republican chairm.while Arizona's is k i n g man8gcd by Sam Steigcr. a fonncr Congressman who is aspccial assistant to ,
l k first political battle among
competitors could start this week. At
issue is the Energy Department's decision to favor proposals that offer to
reduce the f e d d government's cost
in building the supercollider.
While each state must be prepared
to provide l6,OOO acm of land for the
supercolliderat no cost. some pian to
"sweeten" their proposals with offers of free electricity. water. labor,
outright cash. and other inducements
to gain an advantage over their competiton.
"What we can offer is only limited
by our creativity said Colleen Murphy. director of the Colorado s.s.c.
Colorado. like many other states.
is putting together an "incentive task
force" just for that purpose. Ms.
Murphy said. and some of the incentives "could include endowed chairs.
multipurpose building. and tuition
breaks for families."
Representatives of smaller states
and financially strapped regions.
however. say consideration of those
incentives would !K unfair. Some
may ask Congress this week to
change that part of the selection
process. arguing that it would provide an insurmountable advantage to
larger and more economically powerful regions.
"A lot o f people are buzzing about
this." said one state official who
asked not to be named. "Why have
the states fight amongst themselves
to pick up the tab. if this is a national
priority? The next time a military
base is proposed. will the states have
to come up with the money to buy an
Fears o f a B i d d i n g War
Most proponents o f the supercollider, however, believe that some
cost-sharing is needed to make the
huge federal contribution palatable
to Congress. But those planning to
submit proposals arc wonied that
giving a lot of weight to sweetenen
could lead to an all-out bidding war,
with the prize going not to the most
qualified, but to the highest ~pender.
Whatever deals are cut this sum
mer when the states submit their p m
posals. the process is expected t o
look more like a high-stakes poker
game than a public auction. Many
state officials have already anted up
millions of dollan for their proposals
and gathered pledges of support from
state leaislatures and business deaders to raise their wagers should they
reach the final round. Throughout
the process, they are generally playing their cards close to their chests.
Louisiana and a number o f other
states bidding for the supercollider.
for instance, refuse to disclose publicly any specifics of their proposals.
contending that the information
could be used by their competitors.
"We would lose our competitive
advantage." argued Kay Jackson.
Louisiana's secretary of commerce.
who is drafting her state's proposal.
But while information about
sweeteners remains closely guarded.
state officials are generally more than
willing toextol the virtues o f the sites
they have selected.
Illinois his picked an area near Batavia 30 th+ !he Fermilab accelerator
could serve as the proton "injector'.'.
to the supercollider. a move officials
there estimated would save the federd government fS00.million i n construction costs.
Not only is the site adjacent to a
large concentration of accelerator
scientists and particle physicists. but
i t is h t . free of seismic hazards.
close to a major international airport
and a number of leading research institutions. and well supplied with
California. where the main drawback is earthquakes. has sckcted a
scismically safe r u d area near
Stockton that offers a moderate yearround climate and is close to physics
research centers in the San Fnncisco
Bay area and a large number of hightechnology companies i n Silicon Valky.
"It has all of the things to make
this thing go. all of the amenities."
said Jesse D. Shaw. a University of
Idaho's Cbup Electricity
Idaho. meanwhik. has picked a
site near the Idaho National Engineering Labontory that would allow
the state to take advantage of cheap
electricity. federal land into which
tunnels can be dug at l i t t k cost. and
10.000 techniciansand scientistswho
now live there.
"Ifwe can save half a billion do!lars or more on construction and $%
million or more annually in operalion
expenses. we'd have a good shot at
it." said Mr. Trembhy. W
W e Idaho. Wtstern states mally rrtpFd their plrasont climates
their main d v a n t r y s .
Southern and Midwestern states extol their
cheap land. lower living torts. and
the large numbers of unemployed
workers who arc eager to (rlrc pbs.
Some states ore even pitching the
message about the cultud, educational, and recreational benefits o f
their region in slick pamphlets that
resemble travel brochures.
"This is a place where physicists
will want to spend their summers."
said Joel Cohen, d i m t o r of @icy
and research for the CdocPdo Governor's office.
S o d Made O h i o for the SSC
"People have observed." said Mr.
Coburn of Ohio. "that God made
Ohio for the s.s.c."
Although Southern. Western. and
Midwestern states arc scouring their
landscapes for potential supercollider sites. New England stves arc
p n e d i y uninterested i n the competition.
Massachusettsis investigatingseve d potential sites and Gov. John H.
Sununu of New Hampshire has held
meetings recently with rcprcscntatives of several New England states
to try to persuade them to submit a
regional proposal. But most New
Englandofficials arc not intemted i n
becoming involved in any regionaleffort.
O h e r p m t proposals may come
from N o a h Carolina. South Cyoliaa. Virginia. and West Virgiaia; Idaho. Oregon. md Washington; Ncbnska, North Dakota. .Id South
Dakota; and New Yodt. New Jcnty.
and Canada (for a site i n New York
near the Canadian+order).
While Energy Department ofhcials
will allow more than one proposal
from any state, some slates are having trouble deciding which of their
numerous potential sites to hack.
Montana is examining seven sites.
and Texas. which will submit proposals for at least two. has nine localities
vying for the state's political and ecommic support.
"Our big objective now is to get on
that state proposal." said Charks
Bernhard. director of economic dcvelopment for the Odessa. Tex..
chamber of commerce.
Mr. Bernhard noted that winning
the supercollider was so important to
the four cities in his economically depressed oil region that each had paid
92.000 to prepare a proposal for the
"'We can build a site here cheaper
than anywhere else in the cumtry."
k said. "You can buy Ow whde
Qng 11,000 w m lure for wht you
would pay for a city Mock ia DrrltPs.
of the oil problems in the
state. we also have a lot of whineshop technicians and oil drilkrs tha!
are sitting idle here. That's another
very strong factor we have p i n g for
us here. and it will make the opcnting costs less expensive."
Texas is so hungry for the supercollider that the Legislature is considering a bill that would authorize
$500-million in bonds to use as a
sweetener in luring the Energy Depamment into selecting one o f its
aren't very many bigfederal projects that are going on these
days." said Dillard S. Hammen. energy adviser to Gov. William P.
Clements. Jr. The willingness of the
state to throw into its proposals
whatever incentives it takes to win
the supercollider, he said, is unmatched anywhere else.
"Texas." Mr. Hammett said confidently. "is going to win."
Some other states are also talking
"We'll probably make as many
concessions as any other state and
probably a lot more." said Mr. Steip r of Arizona. "We are vay. very
srious about this."
New York Times February 3 , 1987, pp.C1,C4
Atom-Smashing Now and in the
Future: A New Era Begins
In 1990's: 52-mile
colossus should take
lead into next century.
By WILLIAM J. BROAD
A new era of spending and experimentation in particle physics is on the horizon with the scan of beam collisions at
Fermilab's four-mite Tevatron accelerator near Chicago and the announcement last week of Presidential approval
for a monumental 52-mile atom
smasher costing $4 billion to $6 billion.
By hurling subatomic particles to
greater energies than ever before and
smashing them together, the 'new machines will address fundamental questions abwt matter and amgy, s p a a
and time, the beginning and end of the
For a while it looked as though the
Tevatron might come to symbolize the
end of the line instead of the beginning of
a new e r a As the cost and size of atom
smashers soared in the 1980's. some experts came to believe that the quest for
new particles had grown too expensive
to pursue any further.
.But gloom has tumed b glee for many
physicists with the announcement of the
Presidential p a h e a d for the Superconducting Super Collider. or S.S.C. If Ccmgress goeialong, the &lossus. planned
for the 1990's. is to boost Droton beams to
energies 20 ~ m e high&
than ever before achieved on earth. opening an era d
discovery that particle physicists hope
will stretch well into the next century.
"We're at a critical juncture," Dr.
David Schramm, a physicist at the University of Chicago who backs the
project. said in an interview. "The Tevatron and the current generation of accelerators can only go so far. We're at a
great threshold in physics and need the
S.S.C. to cross it"
Physicists say the new frontier may
hold answers to some of the deepest
questions ever posed by scientists. The
finding of elusive particles, for instance,
may show whether the four basicforces
of nature (strong, weak. electromagetic
and gravitational) can be united in a
Grand Unified Theory a set of equations that, a s one physicist put it, fit
neatly on a T-shirt Einstein sought such
a theory in his final years, and researchers today say they see hints of one on the
Indeed. theoretical physicists, drawing on recent findings, have invented
dozens of new ways to explain the wotkings of the cosmos, their theories bearing such odd names a s Technicolor. SUpersymmetry
ihe;e's just bne problem. ~ o b n knows
which is correct
a plight physicists
say might be solved by the super collider's discoveries.
''Then again, we may be in for a
great surprise." said Dr. Leon M.
Lederman, head of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory who is
a strong advocate of the super collider. "A totally new conception of reality may emerge."
Skeptics say the great surprise
may be that the machine finds little,
and certainly not enough to warrant
Its great expense
Since their invention a half century
ago, atom smashers have undergone
8 revolution in size and power. Today
they are usually vast tunnels in which
beams of particles are locked in drcular paths by powerful magnets.
whirled in opposite directions to ever
higher energies, and are collided
head on in a burst of energy. The
S.S.C. is to be the biggest
As energies of collision have increased over the years, so have the
number of particles discovered amid
the debris To date, physicists have
found nearly 100 kinds of subatomic
particles. Many of these, especially
quarks and l e p h s , are "building
blocks" that combine to make up the
larger and more familiar particles
such a s protons, neutrons and whole
atoms. But atom smashers have also
revealed a shadowy class of particles
that transmit forces at the heart of
The greatest such discovery occurred in the early 1980's at CERN,
the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, near Geneva. Theorists
had predicted that a t extremely high
energies, two of the four basic forces
in nature, the weak nuclear force and
electromagnetism, wouldunite into
one entity known a s the "electroweak" force, advancing the quest for
All forces in nature are believed to
be transmitted, or "vectored." by
particles. I h e photon, for has been
shown to mediate electromagnetism.
while the gluon the strong force. So,
1987 The New York Times. Reproduced by the Library of Congress, Congressional
Research Service with permissionof copyright claimant.
too, theorists predicted that a i elec~
troweaklorce would be mediated by
an electroweak particle. The discovery at CERN, in collisions of a monstrous new atom smasher, confirmed
the prediction, with evidence of a particle known as the intermediate vector boson.
Such unifications are today a t the
cutting edge of particle physics And
the superconducting colossus, like no
previous machine, is viewed a s the
best way to see whether all the forces
of nature are payoffs in the same way
that the 19th century mathematical
unification of electricity and magnetism laid the foundation for today's
electronic products, including radio
Dr. Schramm of the University of
Chicago said the huge accelerator
might find particles to prove the se
ductive new theory of Supersymme
try. In one deft stroke, this rheo
twin pillars of m x
em science, quantum physics, which
describes the workings of the atom.
and relativity theory, which describes gravity and the workings of
Further, the massive particles predicted by Supersymmetry, with such
bizarre names as photinos, squarks,
gluinos, zinos and winos, might explain one of the great riddles of astrophysics: missing. mass. As astrone
mers have charted the powerful
gravitational pulls evident in galaxies, they have discovered that
more than 90 percent of the mass
needed to explain such'movements is
missing. No one currently knows the
nature of such "dark" matter. Moreover, its discovery would help scientists calculate whether the universe
is to expand forever, or have enough
mass to start to contrad.
So, too, the super collider would
help solve some of the riddles surrounding the birth of the universe because the enormous energies of panicle collision would resemble those of
the primordial "Big Bang" 10 billion
to 20 billion years ago.
Dr. George F. Chapline Jr., a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Califomi4:said.
borrowing from space launchihg ter-
minology. "You could explore the
physics back much closer to T equals
?.era"One findinghe and other physlcists anticipate from the super collider is that the known uhiverse of
four dimensions (three spacial and
one temporal) might have an additional six or seven hidden dimensions.
Finally, the super collider, if the
Tevatron accelerator fails to do so
first, may also find evidence for a
massive particle known as the Higgs
Boson. This particle would help ex-
vices are becoming so expeniive, and
what they're trying to find is so obscure, that we may be at the point
where scientists can no longer justify
the cost," said John E. Pike, associate
directorof the Federation of American Scientists, a private policy evaluation group in Washington.
The price tag of $4 billion to $6 billion rivals the $5 billion spent so far
on President Reagan's hotly debated
antimissile research program. For
next year, in the biggest expansion
yet of the "Star Wars" program, the
Administration is asking Congress
for an additional $5.9 billion.
Dr. Henry W. Kendalf,' a physicist
at the Massachusetts Institute of.
Technology and chairman of the
Union of Concerned Scientists, which
opposes Star Wars, criticized the antimissit6 effort as threatening the
super collider. "Huge overblown
projects like Star Wars have a deleterious effect on the remainder of the
plain m e of the most fundamental budget structure," he said.
The S.S.C, he added, was a good
mysteries of physics how particles
et their masses and why the photon thing to pursue. "American science
and education have bear suffering
no mass at a l l
in general, physidsts hope the really badly over a long time and
super collider will simplify the baf- many people ,in the academic comfling complexity that has been found munity sense this a s a bellwether of
in the subatomic world Dr. Leder- revitalization," he said.
man said the growing particle "m" Advocates of the super collider
is evidence of a failure of the "sim- warn p a t its rejection could forfeit
the international race in padcle
plicity that has proved to be so
physics to European or Russian
ful a guide in the history %
energy physics." A deeper explora- rivalswho dould then win an anticition of matter, he said, may simplify pated [treasure of scientific discovthings again, by revealing a relative eries, ,industrial spinoffs and Nobel
few primordial objects behind the a p prizes.
physicists also say the vast maparent complexity.
Critics of the super collider, while chine will have educational spinoffs
acknowledging I t s poiential for. dis- as it becomes a lure for the best
covery, say the price tag is so high scientific brains in the world. "Our
that it will sap the Federal budget young folks will be able to mingle
other fields of science. Dr. Arno Pen- with these people," said Dr. Maury
zias, a Nobel laureate at AT&T Bell Tigner, director of the Super Collider
Laboratories, has written, "The design group, which is situated at the
super collider's capital cost will Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory of
clearly squeeze capital expenditures the University of California.
For the discipline of physics as a
for other sciences." The impact may
be espeaally strong, he said, on small whole, Dr. Lederman of Fermilab
but important physics teams at uni- warned that rejection of the super
collider would mean scientists would
versities around the nation.
Other critics say the super collid- "drown in speculative literature with
er's potential for discavery dots not only distant vistas ,of confronting
speculation with fact"
warrant the huge cost "These.de
be in for a great
Chemical and Engineering News, May 11, 1987, p.14
News F o c s
Recent discoveries stir debate over Superconducting Super Collider
The waves of superconductivity discoveries announced during recent
weeks have stirred considerable debate over whether the government
should proceed with its present plans
to build the newest high-energy particle awlerator, the proposed $6 b i l h
to 58 billion Superconducting Super
last January Resident Reagan gave
approval to the Department of Energy
to hrnd the big facility. coveted by
several states as an ecommic bonanza. DOE. after an initial screening pre
cass done by a National Academy of
Sciences panel, will choose the final
site a few weeks after the 1988 electlon. Resent scheduling calls for com
pletionof the project In 1996.
But a hrse segment of the sce
i ntfik community, mostly physicists. sees
the SSC as such an intensively expew
sive project that DOE will be' forced to
sacrifice support for other areas of
research. So this group is using the
new superconductivity findings as a m
munition in arguments to slow down
the project. They believe the new discoveries could lead to a cheaper. maller. and more powerful SSC than the
one being planned.
Their arguments revolve around the
design of the enormously powerful
magnets. About 10,000 such superconducting magnets will precisely steer
two parallel beams of protons streaming in opposite directions around the
53-mile-long, 10-foot-wide circular tunnel. Tremendous ,currents flowing
through the superconducting wires will
produce the magnetic forces needed
to control the beams.
The wires, made of niobium-titanium
filaments. will be twisted, wound, and
braided into cables. "More supercon- because of the recent superconductor
ducting material will be used in these discoveries.
The reason, he says. is that too
magnets." says Westinghouse Corp.'s
director of research John K. Hulm. little is known about those new mate"than for all superconducting magnets rials. They are "too brittle," like the
built in history." Magnet costs, he says, niobiumtin alloy that was previously
will run to fully 25 % of the total cost considered for superconductlng cycloof the SSC. Westinghouse was one of trons, and could present mechanical
the pioneers in superconductivity difficulties.
"ln addition." he says. "It has been
But James A Knunhansl, professor widely o h w e d in preliminary experiof physics at ~ & l lUniversity. is one ments that tha cwentcanykrg capac~ W h O t N n k t D O E s h o u l d r a ity of the new superconducton Is bcthink L scheduling in light ot the new tween 10 and 100 times less than that
d i m e s . KNmhanslbelieves many of the niobiurititaniurn alloys." The
ueas of science will suffer funding niobium-titanium material a! 4.5 to 9 K
shintages H DOE continues to commit carries 105amp per sq cm. In the new
L e l f to the present materials at the materials, currents flow at only a few
arrent fast pace of SSC develop hundred amperes per square centiment. "With these new materials and meter.
Thus. Hulm thinks research on the
Ihe tremendous competition." he says.
"there is now even more reason to new materials for magnetic uses would
vigorous program support take too long and inordinately delay
immediately at the individual project the SSC. He says large numbers of
and graduate level. especially in con- prototype magnets would be required '
densedmtterphysiqtheaeticalphyc 'to achieve reliable performance betae designers could even t h i i of built%
ics. inorganic chmklry, and ceramia."
The American Association for the brg the 10.000 units needed for the
Advancement of Science also opposes SSC. But he urges further research on
present SSC scheduling policy. And them because "the knowledge gained
AAAS president Sheila E. Widnall in will almost certainly be applicable to
tes:imony last month before the House other types of magnets if these are
Science. Space & Technology Com- selected later."
mittee, urged that Congress look into
A DOE official, speaking for back"stretching out" the SSC's schedule.
ground, says niobium-tin is a proven
Westinghouse's Hulm agrees that material, since it already is used in
with the new higher-temperature ma- magnet coils on the Fermi Laboratory
terials "considerable savings" could accelerator in Illinois. "For years." he
be achieved in the inital cost and the says. "we've been hoping to replace
operating expense of refrigerators for niobium-titanium with higher-temperathe SSC. But he says it would be twe materials. :. . But we don't think
"irresponsible to stop the engineering there will be anylhlng to replace the
development of the existing niobium- current materials for 10 to 20 years."
titanium magnet coil material simply
Wil Lepkowski, Washington
American Chemical Society
Reproducedby the Library of Congress, Congressional Research Service with permission
of copyright claimant.