UPDATE: Fermilab's Tevatron to Shut Down By October, Move Puts 100 Jobs in Limbo
The famous particle accelerator must be shut down due to lack of funding, placing 100 jobs in limbo and at the hands of the next federal budget.
The closure of the Tevatron, a high-energy particle accelerator, will put about 100 jobs in limbo until Congress finalizes a budget this year, Fermilab Director Pier Oddone told Batavia Patch on Monday.
Fermilab leaders will not receive the $105 million needed for an extended run of the Tevatron, Oddone said. The Tevatron will close as previously planned at the end of fiscal year 2011.
“Overall … we are disappointed we didn’t get the extension,” Oddone said of the funding. “On the other hand, we understand the country is going through very difficult economic times.”
If funding was secured, the Tevatron would have run for three more years at a cost of $35 million annually, Oddone said. The Tevatron has a four-mile circumference and operates underneath the Fermilab campus on the city’s east side.
The closure is one in a series of changes for the Batavia-based government laboratory. In November, the lab announced buyout offers to reduce staff size in an attempt to shrink a budget shortfall.
A total of 30 people have voluntarily stepped down since November, Oddone told Batavia Patch on Monday.
Oddone stressed that Tevatron’s closing does not signal the end of the Fermilab itself or its multiple other research projects.
“The laboratory will continue to prosper and be one of the world’s main leading labs,” Oddone said.
A Turning Point
Funding for scientific research is one of many areas that will be affected by the next federal budget. Oddone is hopeful funding will exist for current Tevatron staff to transition into other projects.
“If those projects don’t ramp, up there are more serious consequences,” Oddone said.
Those working on the Tevatron now might join other Fermilab research after the particle accelerator closes. The end of that research will allow the lab to focus on its Intensity Frontier program. The lab will seek to measure the basic property of neutrinos—described by Fermilab as the most abundant particle in the universe—and to develop a new, high-intensity proton source, according to a letter from W. F. Brinkman, director of the Office of Science for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Initiatives the Tevatron staff could join include the unraveling of neutrinos and a muon-to-electron conversion experiment called Mu2e.
Technology used with the Tevatron can now be converted earlier than anticipated to serve the neutrino experiment known as NOvA, Oddone said.
A Legacy Lesson
The Tevatron, originally called the Energy Doubler, began its run in 1983 as the world's highest-energy particle accelerator, according to the Fermilab website. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers designated the Tevatron cryogenic system an International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, the website said.
The press has often written about the race between the Tevatron and the Geneva, Switzerland-based Large Hadron Collider to find the origin of mass in the universe. Oddone said Fermilab will remain a large part of the Collider’s program and that the Tevatron was a great help to its development.
"The Tevatron has exceeded all expectations," Oddone said in statement posted on the lab’s website earlier today. "The life of this legendary machine has been marked by historic discoveries made possible by its innovative accelerator and detector technologies."
To read Odone's initial statement, click here.
To read a letter that explains the funding decision, click here.