US ‘reneges’ on SSC decision

23 September 1998

US President Bill Clinton has questioned the momentous decision to cancel the Superconducting Supercollider,
in a recent speech to MIT graduates.


The world of particle physics was stunned in October 1993, when the US Senate voted to cancel the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC), an 87 kilometre ring then being built in Texas to collide 20 TeV proton beams. On 28 October 1993, the giant machine’s death warrant was officially signed by Clinton. The decision changed the face of world particle physics, with the emerging US involvement more outward looking. A major US commitment now constitutes a significant part of CERN’s LHC proton collider project and its physics programme.

However, on 5 June this year, speaking to graduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, President Clinton said: “Scientific research is a basic prerequisite for growth. Just yesterday in Japan, physicists announced a discovery that tiny neutrinos have mass. Now that may not mean much to most Americans [or anyone else ­ Ed], but it may change our most fundamental theories ­ from the nature of the smallest subatomic particles to how the universe itself works.

“This discovery was made in Japan, but it had the support of of the US Department of Energy. This discovery calls into question the decision … to disband the Superconducting Supercollider, and reaffirms the importance of the work now being done at the Fermi National Accelerator Facility.”

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