FERMILAB: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
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Fermilab's Future
by Steven

When Texas received the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) it was a let-down for Fermilab. Even though it didn't get the SSC, Fermilab still is planning to upgrade the laboratory.

The upgrade will be done in two phases. The first phase is to improve the Linear Accelerator (LINAC), a machine that energizes subatomic particles to a level of 200 million electron volts. The upgrade will double the LINAC's energy capacity to 400 million electron volts. This upgrade carries a large price tag of $22.7 million. Congress approved the project this summer. Construction is expected to start in 1990.

The second phase is to build the "Main Injector," a new accelerator that would act as a booster to greatly increase the power needed to produce particle collisions. Phase two has a much greater price than phase one, at $140 million. The DOE will decide in January whether to include the project in its proposed budget for 1991. After that, Congress still has to approve the project.

Leon Lederman says, "This lab is the pre-eminent high energy physics facility in the world and will continue to be for the next ten years." Switzerland's European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) Laboratories plans to build an accelerator that would be five to six times more powerful than the Tevatron. Operation would begin in 1997. The competition is getting rougher, and Fermilab has to fight to stay on top.

Edward Kolb, head of the Astrophysics Group at Fermilab said, "Scientists don't like to be second or third best. Fermilab won't be the top machine, and people at Fermilab would like to have a machine that puts them in the forefront again...We have no intentions of fading into the sunset."


Since Steven wrote this story the SSC project was killed in Congress, and particle physicists from the United States have joined European colleagues to work on the Large Hadron Collider and two new experiments, ATLAS and CMS, at CERN in Switzerland. This accelerator is not as powerful as the SSC would have been, but the scientists look forward to doing some interesting physics.

Fermilab remains the world's highest energy accelerator and is conducting cutting-edge science. The LINAC has been upgraded, the Main Injector has been comissioned and a recycler was installed in the new tunnel with the Main Injector. The two colliding beam experiments, CDF and D-Zero, have been upgraded and Run II, the second set of colliding-beam experiments is beginning. A new project called NuMI is under construction to send a beam of neutrinos to a large detector in the Soudan Mine in northern Minnesota.