Others' Overruns, Glitches Helped Kill Super Collider

By Compiled From News Services | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), October 22, 1993 | Go to article overview

Others' Overruns, Glitches Helped Kill Super Collider


Compiled From News Services, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


IN THE BEGINNING, the superconducting super collider was a 4 1/2-pound blue book that cost $60 million to produce.

For physicists, that 712-page proposal was a riveting text that envisioned a machine to reveal the origin of matter. Among the small-town politicians and members of Congress who saw in its dry technical specifications a more earthly promise of 15,000 local jobs, it became an instant best-seller. This week, with a key congressional vote to deny funding, the project entered its last chapter.

More than a decade and $2 billion after it was first authorized, the atom smasher is ending as 10 miles of dry holes in Waxahachie - a monument to the ambitions and the bitter failures of Big Science.

Congress officially killed the super collider Thursday, halting construction on the giant science machine that was one-fifth complete.

The $640 million sought by President Bill Clinton's administration to continue construction this year will be used instead to shut down the project under an agreement reached Thursday by House and Senate negotiators.

"The SSC has been lynched, and we have to bury the body," said Sen. Bennett Johnston, D-La., the super collider's key Senate backer.

The $11 billion atom smasher's death was all but sealed Tuesday when the House rejected further spending. It marked the third time in 16 months and second time since June that the House had snubbed the physics project. Critics had branded the project as luxury science that was too costly in an era of huge budget deficits.

People in Waxahachie are just starting to tally the human toll - local families disrupted and homesteads demolished to make way for the construction, others uprooted from elsewhere to follow the lure of the research opportunities.

In all, the government bought 16,000 acres and nearly 200 homes to make room for the 54-mile oval tunnel.

The entire community of Boz, home to about 400 people, was razed to make way for the super collider laboratory's west campus. …

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