October 27, 2010

Tevatron Should Get 3 More Years For Higgs Hunt

An expert panel said today that the lifetime of the Tevatron "particle smasher" should be extended by three years.

This extension will allow the particle smasher in Illinois to continue its hunt for the Higgs boson particle.

The panel proposes the facility should continue to operate until 2014, helping it to outrace the Large Hardon Collider (LHC) in finding the elusive particle.

The Higgs, also known as the God particle, is a sub-atomic particle crucial to theories of physics.

The High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) committee voted to keep the Tevatron running until 2014 by 14 votes. 

HEPAP is the highest panel in making recommendations on future particle physics projects, and it reports to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) operates the Tevatron.

Currently, U.S. and European accelerators are racing to be the first to identify the Higgs.  However, extending the lifetime of Tevatron is a potential game-changer.

Some physicists say the LHC may not be in a position to detect the Higgs for two to three years.

However, the two accelerators could also work in a complementary way by measuring different properties of this particle.

The European machine will operate at half its design energy until 2011.  It will then be shut down for a year to maintenance work.

Professor Stefan Soldner-Rembold from the University of Manchestor told BBC news that the extension had strong backing from the particle physics community.

He said physicists working on the LHC who saw it as an "excellent opportunity for particle physics" had supported the bid

HEPAP recommended more funds be allocated to the Tevatron.  However, the extension will not receive the full go-ahead until the Department of Energy's next budget is final.

It expects that Fermilab will need $35 million each year to operate the Tevatron into 2014.

Sources say that some of the funds could come from Fermilab budget, but the lab will most likely need more funds to foot the bill.


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