Fund Crunch Forces Fermilab To Scavenge The Tevatron

Shortage of funds has hit the scientific laboratories badly. This is quite evident from the attitude Fermilab has towards the deceased Tevatron. Fermilab is planning to recycle many parts of the once-biggest particle  collider for other experiments. It’s to save cost, they clarify.

The CDF detector in Tevatron is now being raided for valuable, and not-so-valuable, parts.

Parts, parts…

Of course, there is nothing wrong in that – in fact, this is a good practice. However, given the amount of history the Tevatron has, many people are frowning. The ex-spokesperson for the CDF detector at Tevatron, Rob Roser says:

Some parts are worth pennies, but in this budgetary climate, even pennies are worth saving

The Tevatron was the biggest beast in the particle physics world till the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) came onto the scene. It has fulfilled all of the expectations and has done more. It discovered the top quark, accurately measured the mass of the W and Z bosons and was instrumental in the Higgs search, especially in the low mass range. The Tevatron probed the Higgs decaying to two photon channel and, now it seems that this is the most promising channel.

However, now the collider parts are being utilized for some other experiments. Demands are being met for photomultiplier tubes (PMT’s). These are used to catch light as particles deposit energy while travelling through the detector material.

Tevatron after death: Just some squiggly lines on the ground?

Looking into the Future

There are other things planned in the near future. Fermilab is all set for lepton colliders, which will collide particles like electrons and positrons, or muons-antimuons. The muons can change to electrons and this process will be studied in greater detail by the new lepton collider. This process should answer certain questions about the electroweak force and put strong bounds on the different constants in the electroweak theory, especially the magnetic moment of the muon. This is the so-called ‘g-2’ (g minus two) experiment. The muonic magnetic moment, supposed to be just 2, is actually a bit more. The difference between the electronic and muonic magnetic moments is due to the difference in masses. The electron to muon process should involve hadronic processes as well and this new experiment could yield very strong bounds on these hadronic processes. The hadronic processes from leptonic processes can indicate supersymmetry and, thus, can tell tales about Physics beyond the Standard Model.

There are also many long baseline Neutrino experiments planned. Fermilab’s own MINOS experiment has to be upgraded and the data made more precise.

Even in death, the Tevatron is fuelling research, this time donating parts of itself for future experiments. Scavenging may be a strong term to use for Fermilab and what it is doing to the Tevatron, but there is no doubt that the desecration of the giant will disappoint a few.

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Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.