Sunday, January 2, 2011


specification - Oct 29 12:06PM

How are Superconducting Super Collider and the Large Hadron Collider similar, different and what specifically do they do?

Re: specification - Nov 01 12:21AM


The SSC and LHC were/are both very large accelerators that are designed to give beams of protons lots of energy and then smash them head-on into each other. The energy from the collisions creates new particles that were likely only formed during the Big Bang of the creation of the universe. So, we use these machines to try to understand just what are the fundamental forces of nature, the fundamental particles of which everything is made, and how it all works together.

The LHC accelerates particles through a total of about 7 Trillion Volts of electrical potential (you'll probably talk about electricity and magnetism later this year in physics class). The SSC was going to be bigger than the LHC -- up to 20 Trillion Volts -- but the project was canceled in order to balance the U.S. budget, back in 1993.


Re: Re: specification - Nov 05 11:16AM

Out of curiosity, how much would the LHC have put the US over the budget? Also, if you could go back and redo an event that got you to where you are today, would you?


Re: Re: Re: specification - Nov 07 4:31PM

Well, the US's SSC project, as it was called, was to cost about $8 Billion and was to take about 10 years to complete. The U.S. budget is debated every year in Congress, so project funding always has the possibility of going away in favor of other projects. That's what happened with the SSC. It was decided to spend the money on the International Space Station instead, where it was assumed that the U.S. couldn't afford to do both in 1994. By the time it was canceled, the SSC had already spent $2 Billion out of the 8.

I must say that it's different in Europe. There, the various countries have an agreement to build projects like the LHC, and they commit to do it for the next 5 years or so and then review progress. Thus, though there were often debates in Europe and it was never totally certain until the end, it was a bit easier to get a large project started and funded to completion over there.

As for regrets and redo's, I don't think I'd change anything. We've always got choices to make, typically while we don't have all the facts in front of us. We often see things differently years later with hindsight, but I don't think any decisions "on the spot" would be much different for me.


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