Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nuclear Advisory Panel: Shutdown Last U.S. Collider

Decelerating American Physics: Panel Advises Shutdown of Last U.S. Collider

The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider is first in line for possible budget cutbacks

RHIC STAR detector 

LAST SMASH? A computer rendering shows the aftermath of a collision of gold ions inside the STAR detector at the RHIC collider, now threatened by tightening budgets. Image: BNL

In a narrowly decided vote, an advisory panel to federal nuclear science agencies has recommended closing a particle collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., rather than eliminating other costly facilities. The reason: federal budget woes are hitting all types of government funding from classroom education to highway repair.

At a meeting this week of the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee, which provides guidance to the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, physicist Robert Tribble of Texas A&M University in College Station unveiled the findings of an effort he led to identify priorities for an increasingly frugal U.S. nuclear science program. From the outset of the Tribble panel’s investigation, it appeared that one of three major projects would face elimination, and on January 28 Tribble announced that Brookhaven’s Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider, or RHIC, had drawn the short straw.

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Source: Scientific American Magazine.

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