On Monday, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation announced that the United States has completed - on budget and ahead of the September 30, 2008 milestone - its contribution to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
Under its agreement with CERN, the U.S. contributed $531 million of accelerator components and particle detectors for the LHC. The $200 million U.S. LHC Accelerator Construction Project involved researchers from Brookhaven, Fermi, and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories who designed and constructed the final-focus magnet systems. The United States also made contributions for two particle detectors: ATLAS and CMS. Participation in the collaborations responsible for the detectors was wide-ranging. The $164 million U.S. ATLAS collaboration involved 39 universities and four national laboratories. The CMS collaboration involved 49 institutions. In all, more than 1,500 physicists, graduate students, engineers, technicians, and computer scientists worked on the two particle detectors. These institutions were in 30 states and Puerto Rico. Fermilab hosted the CMS and accelerator contribution, while Brookhaven hosted the ATLAS project. Additional information on the LHC and the U.S. contribution to it can be found here.
The successful completion of the U.S. contribution to the Large Hadron Collider stands in stark contrast to the cancellation of the Superconducting Super Collider by the Congress in 1993. In a dramatic showdown on the House floor, representatives voted almost two-to-one to reject the final version of the FY 1994 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill that would have provided $640 million for the collider. House and Senate conferees then removed the SSC funds, prompting one senator to say, "The SSC as we know it is dead. It cannot be revived." In early February 1997, representatives of CERN, DOE, and NSF came to a preliminary agreement for U.S. participation in the LHC. The agreement was finalized later that year.
Commenting on the successful conclusion of the U.S. effort, DOE Under Secretary for Science Ray Orbach commented, "The success of the U.S. LHC project is based on the quality of the U.S. teams, and national and international collaboration. The U.S. groups, from universities and national laboratories, worked extraordinarily well together. We celebrate their accomplishments and, together with them, look forward to extremely exciting science coming from the LHC." Added Joseph Dehmer, Director of NSF's Physics Division, "We are proud to have partnered with the DOE in supporting the U.S. LHC collaborations in this historic international effort. We also note with pride the excellent performance of the construction project, and we look forward to the period of scientific discovery that will result."
Commissioning of the Large Hadron Collider, located at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, began in January 2007. The machine's eight sectors are now being cooled down to their operating temperature of 1.9 degrees above absolute zero. Following electrical testing, the first beams are scheduled for August.