After years of discoveries, the Tevatron in Illinois is scheduled to shut down after decades of research into particle physics. The incredible corridors once housing some of the most advanced sensing systems in the world will soon be abandoned by its staff of physicists and taken down to be left as a memory in the eyes of the crew that once worked on it. But though the system will no longer be colliding particles, it stands as one of the most successful projects in the field. And now the responsibility of the future of the discipline will remain in the hands of the crew at CERN.
The project finally closed the book on the Batavia Illinois based particle physics lab on Friday after almost 30 years of service. The Tevatron, once thought to be the cutting edge had simply failed to procure the funding necessary to keep the pace with the international CERN project. With so many people operating on CERN, Fermilab was feared to become nothing more than a backup to test the hypotheses and findings of the larger lab.
But now may prove to be one of the most incredible times for the international particle accelerator as scientists claim to have found particles that in fact move faster than the speed of light – essentially calling into question the entirety of one of physics’ most basic tenants – that matter cannot travel faster than the speed of light. This is only one of the components that seems to be creating a new tapestry of how we think of the world around us and how we may alter it to further our progress into the stars.
Of course the discovery by CERN was by no means the event that ultimately decided the fate of the Tevatron. In fact, the scheduled closing was set to occur according to a timeline that started several months ago. And as a result, scientists at the lab are more likely to have their research wrapped up than if it were merely a last minute shutdown.
What does this mean for the future of particle physics? Given the nature of the research, there is an incredible amount of technological achievement that could be unearthed by particle accelerators such as those at CERN. As a result, the information gleaned by te project is more likely to be distributed internationally, even if something on the same level as the incredible power unleashed by atomic physics is discovered. But by the same token, because CERN is an international cooperative running through one organization, it will be that much easier to control the information flowing through it.
So what lies in store for those who worked on the Tevatron project? At this time it’s unknown. But of course it’s unknown, but more than likely that CERN will be more than eager to get their hands on some of the brilliant minds working at the project. For years the two had a friendly rivalry with Tevatron having to make up for a lack of funding power with ingenuity. And it did keep up in more ways than some had predicted. And in the world of particle accelerators keeping up is an important part of the job.