The Impact of the Tevatron

Scientists from across the world gathered at nearby Fermilab to celebrate the impact of the Tevatron. Attendees kicked off a day-long symposium with a close up look at the historic particle accelerator.

When it was built in 1983, the Tevatron was the leading accelerator in the world. The nearly four-mile, underground collider was used to send protons around a circle and smash them together at nearly the speed of light. Scientists would then study the resulting sub-atomic particles, analyzing the very building blocks of the universe.

“It innovated in many, many different ways,” said Pier Oddone, Director of Fermilab. “In terms of technology for accelerators and detectors and of course the prize was there were great discoveries in the Tevatron as well, which is why we do all this.”

In 2008, CERN Laboratories in Switzerland built the Large Hadron Collider. The newest accelerator took over as the best in the world and due to budget issues the Tevatron was forced to permanently shut down in September 2011.

At the recent symposium, attendees were able to catch a glimpse of the inner workings of the two 5,000 ton detectors since the Tevatron powered down. The D-Zero and the CDF are the two points where scientists observed collisions between protons and antiprotons.

“It was in fact wonderful to see first hand where that science originated from, the experiments that produced so much knowledge for us,” said David MacFarlane, Director of Particle Physics and Astrophysics, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

The group also learned about a few projects Fermilab has planned for the future.

“Despite everything that the Tevatron has shown, nature for us is still a mystery and of course that’s what motivates us,” said Oddone. “When we understand something, we move to the next step. We’re always batting in the dark not understanding. What we’re trying to do is generate understanding.”

Over the next ten years Fermilab has multiple plans such as the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment and Project X, which will multiply the number of particles by 100. They hope these two projects will give the lab a lead in the world of physics once again.

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