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Breaking Into the Super Collider

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the checking-for-black-holes dept.

Government 168

BuzzSkyline writes "A group of physicists went AWOL from the American Physical Society conference in Dallas this week to explore the ruins of the nearby Superconducting Super Collider. The SSC was to be the world's largest and most ambitious physics experiment. It would have been bigger than the LHC and run at triple the energy. But the budget ran out of control and the project was scrapped in 1993."

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Edit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617014)

That las sentence should read "But the Clintons took office and the project was scrapped in 1993."

By comparison (5, Informative)

Helpadingoatemybaby (629248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617154)

To put it in perspective, the supercollider cost about $8 billion over ALL its years. By contrast the nuclear fission industry received $38 billion in taxpayer loan guarantees in a single year, and the CBO projects that it will default on more than half of them. That's about $20 billion in taxpayer money. In one year. And that doesn't include direct subsidies, the eight year federal tax credit, the $2 billion dollar cost overrun fund, and debt waivers.

Re:By comparison (0)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617396)

Compare to the sheer amount of handouts the Retardicans have handed to their robber baron oil buddies.

Then wonder why the American scientific and education communities keep getting hosed by the Retardicans, party of tax breaks for billionaires paid for by pay cuts to the poor and middle class.

Re:By comparison (3, Insightful)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617582)

Dude, they're all the same party. Do you see the Democrats making moves to stop any of those goings-on?

Re:By comparison (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617700)

Compare to the sheer amount of handouts the Retardicans have handed to their robber baron oil buddies.

Then wonder why the American scientific and education communities keep getting hosed by the Retardicans, party of tax breaks for billionaires paid for by pay cuts to the poor and middle class.

Evidently you missed the story today about how GE made $5 billion in profits, and not only paid nothing in US taxes, but actually received a tax rebate of $3.2 billion.

Hate to break it to you, but the "Retardicans" are not in control any more. Who are you going to blame for this?

Re:By comparison (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617878)

Hate to break it to you, but the "Retardicans" are not in control any more. Who are you going to blame for this?

Do you really have to ask? Obviously its gotta be George Bush. ;-)

And of course everything will be Barrack Obama's fault as soon as the next guy gets in office. It's a vicious cycle we seem to be caught in .

Re:By comparison (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618238)

That's why I always blame future presidents.

And our current economic crisis, not to mention the loss of the SSC, are clearly the fault of President Bieber!

Re:By comparison (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617540)

You can't reasonably compare budgets for scientific research that may or may not eventually produce usable results after many years to loans for critical infrastructure without which our country would not function.

Re:By comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617964)

Sure you can. One might have made large scale fusion reactors come sooner, and the other illustrates that fission is not cost effective (or it wouldn't be stuck to the taxpayer teat so fiercely).

Re:By comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618328)

You do realize that 'critical infrastructure' was the result of scientific research.

and Hubler at Morgan Stanley lost 9 billion (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617780)

in one Synthetic CDO trade. read 'the big short' if you dont believe me.

Re:Edit (5, Informative)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617192)

Actually despite initial reservations, Clinton urged Congress to continue funding it. Congress opted not to do so due to costs associated with developing the ISS.

Unrelated note: if you haven't clicked on TFA, you should. Don't worry, it's mostly pictures.

Re:Edit (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617664)

That, and the fact that both the SSC and the Lydon B Johnson Space Center in Houston (ISS mission control) are in Texas, and funding both projects would have been funneling an absurd amount of money there.

Re:Edit (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617364)

Why would they want to end the piece with a bunch of bullshit?

Great thinking. (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617034)

So, instead of the project being an over budget waste, they canned it so it could be a complete waste with no return. Brilliant.

Re:Great thinking. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617084)

At the rate at which the graft was growing, the cost was going to approach infinity.

Re:Great thinking. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617100)

So, instead of the project being an over budget waste, they canned it so it could be a complete waste with no return. Brilliant.

See: Sunk Costs [wikipedia.org]

Also, this thing was turning into a white elephant - between mismanagement by the physicists and cost over-runs (gee, from Government contractors?!? No way!) this was going to turn into a huge money pit. Anyway, the Europeans did it better

Re:Great thinking. (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617310)

I agree with AC. I love science and I'd love to see more science projects but to enforce at least halfway reasonable government spending, there must be consequences for overspending. They couldn't get their costs under control and showed no sign of getting better. Write them off and move on.

Politicians, not physicists (5, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617326)

Also, this thing was turning into a white elephant - between mismanagement by the physicists

The problem was not physicists but politicians. Large colliders like the LHC and SSC require a chain of accelerators of increasing energy to inject protons into them. The US already has just such a chain but in Fermilab near Chicago, not in the middle of Texas. As I understand it the decision to move the SSC from Illinois to Texas was made by politicians for political reasons. Since the entire lower energy accelerator complex had to be built from scratch in Texas this literally doubled the cost of the project.

The damage to US physics goes well beyond the loss of the project though. There were many non-US groups involved in the SSC and its cancellation has meant that many are extremely adamant that future international accelerator projects should not be built in the US due to a complete lack of faith in the US funding system.

Re:Politicians, not physicists - wrong (3, Insightful)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617852)

A serious series of failures to be able to actually make magnets and detectors to the specs physicists made -- was what really did it. They promised a lot more than it turned out they could deliver, and proved that by not delivering on the preliminary prototypes, and after spending money ahead of schedule.

For once, the politicians did the right thing, actually. These clowns weren't even in the same class as the guys are CERN. Hate to say it, I'm American and wish it were otherwise, but really, go read the reports. This was a bunch of people who thought conceptually trivial meant actually trivial. Nope, and most people outside ivory towers know that. Even some politicians.

Re:Politicians, not physicists - wrong (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618110)

Why even post an assertion like this without any link to the "reports" you cite. I'm old enough to remember what happened and that is that the SSC was killed by anti-science Republicans who would have been able to reverse a veto by Clinton, who, in the end, favored completing the project. Losing the SSC was a sad and terrible loss for America.

Re:Politicians, not physicists - wrong (1)

Game_Ender (815505) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618554)

You do realize that Americans engineered many parts of the LHC right? Including some of the accelerator magnets and parts of the detectors? This has nothing to do with nationality, probably just technological advancement that happened in the 10-15 years between projects.

Re:Politicians, not physicists - wrong (1)

kanguro (1237830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618878)

LHC is mostly an European effort. And so is the foundation of modern physics. But I understand your disappointment.

Re:Politicians, not physicists (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618058)

Nothing new here. Putting the Manned Spacegraft Center (err Lyndon B. Johnson Manned Spacecraft Center) in a pestilential swamp outside of Houston instead of the perfectly fine pestilential swamps outside the Kennedy Space Flight Center increased costs for Apollo and the Shuttle significantly. NASA is spread all over the country in large part to 'spread the wealth'. Same with the military except you have some justification for not putting all your targets in one place.

Re:Politicians, not physicists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618654)

I've heard first hand stories of similar issues. Lack of infrastructure in TX to support such a large construction project, fire ants getting into anything electrical and causing shortages, lack of safety (someone died during construction), and gross overspending such as three computers per scientist (even today that's overspending, but ridiculous in the 90s). As much as I love the SSC, it was a mess and needed to go. Big science on modern scales needs to be done collaboratively, even with construction...

European government conractors involved? (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618260)

And the Europeans who "did it better" did it without government contractors? You left out any backing for your lame dig there.

Re:Great thinking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618666)

Anyway, the Europeans did it better

15 years later and at 1/3 the energy. That's not to detract from the LHC, since it actually got built. Still, the loss of the SSC was huge. When I saw that as a high schooler, I decided to go into chemistry instead of high energy physics, because it just seemed like it was a business the US was getting out of.

Well, Some Businesses Still Benefited in Texas (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617066)

I remember when Michigan was vying for this project, touting how it would enhance Michigan's scienterrific credentials, bring more research bucks to University of Michigan, etc. Now that it's in ruins, it would still fit in with much of southeast Michigan - the rust belt - Bay City, Saginaw, Flint and the Detroit area. I wonder if they could somehow turn it into an underground D&D theme park?

Paging Richard Garriott [geocaching.com] ...

Re:Well, Some Businesses Still Benefited in Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617174)

I wonder if they could somehow turn it into an underground D&D theme park?

Paging Richard Garriott [geocaching.com] ...

yeah, then maybe i could get rid of an idiot rogue by having him try to disarming traps there

Re:Well, Some Businesses Still Benefited in Texas (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617752)

wonder if they could somehow turn it into an underground D&D theme park?

You are in a single circular passageway, all alike.

Re:Well, Some Businesses Still Benefited in Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617844)

how dare you compare rust to detroit, rust at least has some useful properties

Re:Well, Some Businesses Still Benefited in Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618288)

ohio was going for it as well... and while i'm a geek and love science i rooted against this one. it was going to wipe out my family farm.

it wasn't marketed properly (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617078)

They should've called it the "Texas World Science Racetrack" and listed as one of the goals "Determine the conditions of the world at the time of its creation in 4004 BC".

Re:it wasn't marketed properly (2, Insightful)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617516)

It's bad enough what they *wanted* to call it — The Ronald Reagan Center for High Energy Physics (presumably for his previous work in the field of deciduous pollution vectors and the Grand Unification Theory of Vegetables and Condiments. Look it up, kids.)

And that was the same year that Richard Feynman died.

the "Republican Revolution" killed the SSC (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617086)

While expensive, the budget was not out of control. Gingrich & Co killed the SSC for ideological reasons.

Re:the "Republican Revolution" killed the SSC (4, Informative)

rabbit994 (686936) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617740)

Too bad Gingrich and Company didn't take command of Congress till 1994 and it was cancelled in 93. Democrats killed this one.

Re:the "Republican Revolution" killed the SSC (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618740)

I don't remember it that way. It was a "big science/little science" fight, if I recall.

The whole SSC thing got started under the Reagan administration, and I *especially* remember the impact when Reagan came in, because I was a student at MIT and had jobs in many research labs around the institute. The Reagan administration did a huge reorientation of the national research program. The Reagan administration had an ideology about research that pulled the plug on a lot of applied research, because that should be done by the private sector. The exception was in DoD funded research, which got a lot *more* focused on immediate applications -- specifically things that were immediately applicable to making weapons -- and so even DoD funded researcher felt the pinch. Although I disagree with Reagan's science policy, it kind of makes sense from their point of view. Making and using weapons is a legitimate government function in their view, as was research that was so far from having practical application that it could not conceivably attract any kind of private sector investment.

The SSC was the kind of thing that the Reagan could get behind. It was by no stretch of the imagination *applied* research. It was a big and showy counterargument to the charge that the administration was "anti-science", and in the grand scheme of things, the $4.4 billion was a pittance to an administration that was going to build a 600 ship navy, and which actually *doubled* federal spending over its tenure. The problem is you can't conjure a direction change in a nation's research establishment overnight. People are in the middle of their careers, and you can't conjure new careers out of thin air. A generation of researchers had to scramble harder than ever for funding, and the funds for the SSC would have purchased a *lot* of small science.

One of the political drawbacks with the SSC is that the economic impact couldn't be spread around the way defense contractors do to build a support base in Congress. Somebody elsewhere suggested physicists near losing SSC sites lobbied their congressmen to kill the SSC, but that doesn't really make sense. Once SSC was killed, nobody was going to build another one. The jealous nuclear physicists who would supposedly have an ax to grid would be better off having the SSC built in Texas than not built at all. But I do think it's likely there was a lot of political opposition from scientists who were "small science" advocates. Not that scientists of any stripe individually or collectively have much clout, but if legislators heard opinions from scientists on the project, the bulk of opinions were likely critical. The kinds of problems any project on this scale would have could easily be spun as imminent disaster.

Killed Because It Was In Texas (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617110)

" But the budget ran out of control and the project was scrapped in 1993."

No, it was killed by the politics of high-energy physics. In a nutshell, those working at the competing research sites who lost the bid to be the SSC location, basically got their congressmen to fight and kill the SSC project.

Re:Killed Because It Was In Texas (1)

matfud (464184) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617824)

polotics did get involved. The US built the SLA and was involved in paying for the LHC. I'm not surprised that funding for the SSC was withdrawn.A lot of europe and the US was involved in the LHC. Probably not a good plan as the SSC was a stunning idea. Not everything works out well.

Re:Killed Because It Was In Texas (1)

naoursla (99850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617948)

No, it was killed because...

I don't want to post spoilers, but the actual history is all documented in a book of "fiction" by a physics professor at the University of Washington.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einstein's_Bridge_(book) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Killed Because It Was In Texas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618592)

Dude, this isn't Harry Potter and because you used bunny ears I'm not even going to bother clicking the link.

Superconducting Supercollider? (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617114)

Did they have Aperture Science Super Colliding Super Buttons?

Wow (0)

Moderator (189749) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617136)

This reminds me of how Half-Life started.

This is inspiration for education (5, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617152)

It is these types of things that inspire kids to get an education. It was frequent trips to NASA that inspired me to become a technical person. It was observing real scientists doing real science that taught me to be a scientist. We cannot just wave out hands around a beg and plead for students to study math and science, and for teach to competently present the subject. Without real experiences what will the teacher present? Dull facts out of books they have read. Without the ability to see real science what will the students learn? That these things are what far away people do, with no relation to their local opportunities.

This is just one of those short sighted things we do because missiles are more exciting that basic science. A generation of US scientists should be considered loss as a result, and a generation of people able to teach the next generation about science is lost as well. How many billions of dollars is being spent to bootstrap science programs based on pictures in books when we could have have science based on real world experience.

Re:This is inspiration for education (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617216)

We cannot just wave out hands around a beg and plead for students to study math and science, and for teach to competently present the subject. Without real experiences what will the teacher present? Without the ability to see real science what will the students learn?

Evolution or ID. It's the only thing that people are fighting over, thus it gets all the attention.

Re:This is inspiration for education (2)

UBfusion (1303959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617422)

These types of things, and these ruins specifically, tell kids that maybe getting an education is overrated. All the people involved in the SSC project had an education, but apparently not the power to prevent it from becoming a dollar black hole.

If I were a US citizen, I'd demand. that these installations totally disappear from the map and all references to it be removed from press, books and the internet, because the SSC incident represents a national science hall of shame.

SSC would have become obselete (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618588)

Current particle accelerator technology might be obsolete in a few decades. Wakefield plasma has been making progress. Isn't it a good thing the United States did not build a ten billion dollar accelerator, and researched alternative accelerator technologies instead? Especially since a similar multibillion dollar accelerator was built by the Europeans.

Re:This is inspiration for education (-1, Troll)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617426)

This is just one of those short sighted things we do because missiles are more exciting that basic science.

Welcome to the world the Retardicans are currently creating.

Remember, in their minds, all kids should sit in a classroom using bible-approved textbooks and being taught how Jesus's most important doctrine was to give your money to the Retardican Robber Baron Masters.

Re:This is inspiration for education (2)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617522)

You forgot to mention the Dumbicrats. I wonder why?

Re:This is inspiration for education (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617648)

One would guess because the Democrats have never been known for anti-education or anti-science policies.

Re:This is inspiration for education (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618124)

You seem to have glossed important portions of southern US history. Until the '80s, a lot of southern members of the KKK were Democrats. The southern Democrat party was jokingly referred to as schizophrenic because of the polar opposite ideology of its members (minorities vs KKK). The term Yellow Dog Democrat was created in the South to refer to a voter who would vote for any yellow dog instead of a Republican. Reconstruction, especially in Texas, lead to extreme hatred of the Republican party. I was born in the early '70s and grew up in the environment that Republicans were those damn, rich, LIBERAL, carpet bagger Yankees, that set the slaves free. In the '60s, it was southern Democrat governors that protested evolution and desegregation.

Re:This is inspiration for education (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618442)

One would guess because the Democrats have never been known for anti-education or anti-science policies.

Multiculturalism. Environmentalism.

Re:This is inspiration for education (1)

kanguro (1237830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618936)

Don't sweat it. Both your parties are a political joke.

Good science is being done in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617798)

The unmanned space program is doing lots of science and gets in the news from time to time. Sure, it does not get the hype of a moon landing, but it is doing genuine space exploration. Planets orbiting other stars have been discovered from Earth. Kepler is screening thousands of stars for more. There will probably be future planet finding telescopes or space probes.

Hubble's successor space telescope has made good progress.
Mars was found to have significant amounts of water.
Mercury just had a probe enter orbit. Mercury had not been getting much attention from scientists.
A probe will flyby Pluto several years from now.

Beautiful (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617170)

Beautiful pictures! I woud love to explore a derilict building in that way.

Just like Chernobyl (3, Funny)

Lev13than (581686) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617186)

They missed a great opportunity to bring motorcycle helmets with them and make a whole website about their 'ride' through the famed "Superconducting Super Collider Exclusion Zone".

Re:Just like Chernobyl (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617708)

(Romulan ambassador Vreenak) IT'S A FAAAAAAKE!

That Slavic lady with the motorcycle is a fraud. It was all debunked a few years ago. She never did what she said she did. So sad, for her to need to lie like that.

Can we expect... (2)

Grapplebeam (1892878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617218)

A fourty page, peer reviewed paper on how their application of force against the garage door they broke in through will revolutionize breaking and entering?

ruined conspiracy (4, Funny)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617220)

I had a conspiracy theory that this thing was secretly completed underground. These pictures lower the chances of that being true. I'm sad. :(

Re:ruined conspiracy (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617372)

Dude, that's just the decoy ruin. The real SSC was built nearby, but far enough away that anyone looking for the known SSC site wouldn't see the people going in and out of the real site!

Re:ruined conspiracy (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618114)

Dude, that's just the decoy ruin. The real SSC was built nearby, but far enough away that anyone looking for the known SSC site wouldn't see the people going in and out of the real site!

Why build one when you can build two at twice the price? I've seen that movie.

Re:ruined conspiracy (2)

lewiscr (3314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618196)

Judging by the budget, we built 3.

Rich Got Richer/Poor Got Poorer/Science Got Fucked (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617222)

Reagan and his band of merry dolts didn't mind running the nation into massive deficit to give tax cuts to the rich and let the military run wild, but they couldn't allow spending on a science facility that might have actually gotten us somewhere. That wouldn't be as wise as giving corporations tax breaks to ship their factories overseas...(for the irony impaired, that was ironic).

Imagine if we already FOUND the Biggs particle, or the graviton, or figured out how to control the magnetic bottle around fusion. Twenty-plus years of research was lost so we could "save money", money we pissed away instead to cause the first tsunami of our current massive deficits.

It's "Keynesian nonsense" when the left does deficit spending; it's the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981" or the "Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001" when the right does it. Sigh... And always remember the "Tax Reform Act of 1986", billed by Reagan as "tax simplification", but where we lost the deduction for interest on consumer loans. Simplification my left testicle...

There is a special circle in hell for that bunch of idiots.

Re:Rich Got Richer/Poor Got Poorer/Science Got Fuc (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617892)

it wasnt a total waste, we did put a storage shed on a ratty old space station

Well... (0)

drwhite (456200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617242)

I guess it's okay for Congress to fund black projects in the billions of $$$ that go unaccounted for.

Where's the entrance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617246)

Where is the entrance to this place? I'd like to explore it with a group of friends, too, so any direction would be appreciated.

Blows away regular hiking. (1)

Camaro (13996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617256)

Screw nature. I see enough trees and dirt every day. This kind of hike would be way more interesting!

Russian analogue: Protvino (4, Informative)

kav2k (1545689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617276)

For comparison, here are the photos of a similar abandoned Russian project (Google-translated):

Post 1 [google.com] Post 2 [google.com]

Note that the construction site is preserved rather than completely abandoned.

Wikipedia link [wikipedia.org]

Re:Russian analogue: Protvino (3, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617782)

Note that the construction site is preserved rather than completely abandoned.

Well, from the pictures it appears to be nearly completely abandoned - preserved sites don't have standing water on the floor.

Re:Russian analogue: Protvino (1)

Lotana (842533) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618332)

Thank you for those links.

When looking at the pictures, did anyone else was reminded of underground labs in S.T.A.L.K.E.R or Metro 2033?

The Numbers (2, Insightful)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617312)

So for an additional 8 billion dollars, we could have had this incredible science resource. The hundreds of billions spend on bail outs and trillions spent on wars since then puts that and our current priorities in perspective.

Re:The Numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617370)

The hundreds and thousands of billions go directly to buddies of politicians. Corruption is king. It's as simple as that.

Re:The Numbers (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617394)

So the solution is simple then.

Scientists just need to find more corrupt politician buddies than the army jocks.

Re:The Numbers (1)

Manos_Of_Fate (1092793) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617686)

Don't be ridiculous, rich people don't hang out with smart poor people.

bailouts actually trillions (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617812)

they use some fuzzy accounting to redefine what 'bailout' means. they have 'loans' and 'loan guarantees' and 'asset purchase programs' and a whole other bunch of stuff to make it hard to calculate a straight ahead cost.

imco (in my conspiratorial opinion), they did this on purpose because otherwise they wouldnt have been able to inject enough capital into the banking system and wed be even more @#$@#$ than we are. (congress would never allocate 2 trillion directly).

Re:The Numbers (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617970)

I am not 100% sure how having a bigger particle accelerator peen is that much better

here is how I imagine it went down

Scientist: It would be much quicker and cheaper if we had our own instead of running to Switzerland's every time
Our Government: Well son, this is Amurica we just cant do the same thing those fish have, it needs to be BIGGER BETTER and MORE EXPENSIVE to prove to the entire universe we are the best GD particle smashers GOD ever created. We will make it so big it will hardly fit in Texas! Let me call my boys and see what kind of contractors they have willing to rape, um I mean TACKLE! this sort of job. We all applaud your patriotism

Re:The Numbers (4, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618208)

I am not 100% sure how having a bigger particle accelerator peen is that much better

Okay, let me spell it out for you in terms having nothing to do with the size of America's wang (and how did Florida enter the conversation anyway?):

A particle accelerator 3 times as powerful as the design spec for the LHC, 15-20 years earlier.

It's not about pride, it's about physics. Physics that requires high energies to explore. We're still waiting for the LHC to answer questions that we could have answered over a decade ago, and there are other questions the LHC can't answer which the SSC could have.

Instead, here we are in 2011, still waiting to find out if a fundamental prediction of our current physics will be borne out or if we need to rework it entirely. Just like we have been for decades.

Re:The Numbers (1)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618562)

with particle accelerators, the bigger the better. Here's why:

If you want your collisions to produce really exotic products e.g. the Higgs boson, you need high energy collisions which means your particles have to be travelling really fast. If you want your particles to be travelling really fast, you need a lot of distance to get them up to speed. If you build your particle accelerator as a straight line, you only have so much distance to get them up to speed. If you build it as a circle, you effectivley have infinite distance if you want it.

However, if you build your particle accelerator as a circle, you need something to make the particles go round in a circle or they'll hit the wall (cf Newton's 1st law of motion). Fortunately, charged particles like protons and electrons will go round in a circle if they are moving through a magnetic field. However, for any fixed size circle, the faster the particles are going, the stronger the magnetic field needed to make them keep to the circle. For any given speed, a big circle requires a weaker magnetic field than a small circle. So you need to make your circle as big as possible and your magnets as strong as possible to get the highest energy collisions.

Herman Wouk, "A Hole in Texas" (2)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617360)

It's not the greatest book in the world.

It's not Herman Wouk's greatest book.

But Herman Wouk's 2004 novel, "A Hole in Texas" has got to be the best romantic comedy about the Superconducting Super Collider ever written.

Re:Herman Wouk, "A Hole in Texas" (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617420)

It still wouldn't have been the biggest a-hole in Texas.

Re:Herman Wouk, "A Hole in Texas" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617616)

I'm gonna go for Capt. Obvious' hat here, I'm betting it was the only romantic comedy about the Superconducting Super Collider.

Re:Herman Wouk, "A Hole in Texas" (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617746)

How many romantic comedies have been written about that thing? Still, I loved Wouk's "Don't stop the carnival" so I might pick that one up as well.

god particle, lederman (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617826)

discusses how he got anti-intellectual Reagan to fund the thing in the first place (we are cowboys, exploring the frontiers of physics)

What are they trying to sell it for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617384)

I give, if they can't sell it, just how much money are they trying to sell it for?

Re:What are they trying to sell it for? (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617618)

I give, if they can't sell it, just how much money are they trying to sell it for?

it's a huge tract of land. The accelerator was 20 miles in diameter.

politics and the Hole (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617444)

Clinton and his liberal allies like the NYT killed this because it was in Texas, which had gone for Bush. There was no other reason for them. The Times editorial mocked the Higgs Boson like it was an idiots delight. I might alos point ou that many other people of science in other disciplines testified against it in congress. They wanted the money for themselves. When the collider was defeated the project manager called it " the victory of the C students"

Re:politics and the Hole (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618004)

That is the most retarded thing I have heard all day, and I listen to fox news radio

Limewire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617714)

How about we use the funds from that limewire suing thing to create this?

i am pretty sure the record companies will not miss a trillion or 2

Re:Limewire (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617808)

Nah, we're using the proceeds of that to cure all disease, end all war, and meld this universe with one in which magic works.

False dichotomy. (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35617792)

It wasn't a choice between ISS and SSC.

We could have bought 5 SSC's for what it cost to develop and field the F-22.

And, at current estimates, not doing F-35 could have built 80 SSCs.

Never underestimate the sophistry of lobbyists trading off your money for their goals.

Re:False dichotomy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618174)

Yeah, but, really, what would the SSC ever do for us? I mean, besides give us insights into the fundamental aspects of matter and other physics related knowledge that would probably revolutionize technology and lead to discoveries we probably can't even imagine (in due time of course).

But I'm happy with the aqueduct, and the roads, and wine, and the safety Rome offers.

Of course, that goes without saying.

Budget out of control - Not! (3, Insightful)

woboyle (1044168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618158)

As far as I understood it, the budget was pretty well under control. It's just that the Republican Congress did not want to spend $$ on basic research. My wife was working on it, and if it had gone ahead, we would have been in Austin, TX. instead of Batavia, IL where my wife is a physicist at Fermi Lab. My father, also a physicist, was involved as well, but he was trying to get the collider to be situated in Colorado, where he worked... :-)

Re:Budget out of control - Not! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618518)

The only reason the SSC was put in Texas was pure Texas political muscle - and people remembered and resented that. When the SSC went over budget it had no political good will due to the all the back room deals to put it in Texas.

Looters. (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618484)

I'm surprised the equipment, wiring, magnets, etc, haven't been stripped by looters. The amount of copper alone in those buildings...

Re:Looters. (2)

Flash Modin (1828190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619000)

I posted the original thread: They have. Every last room of the place has been gutted for copper and whatever people could get.

Supercollider? I just met her! (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618488)

And then they built the supercollider.

Size comparison (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618688)

Interstate 410 [wikipedia.org] in San Antonio, Texas is about the same circumference as the SSC would have been, only not quite as round.

heh, i remember that (1)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619052)

this guy i know from college was working on that project until it was cancelled. a real bummer: we should be doing more cool science in america than europe.

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