Saturday, September 20, 2008

Congrats to the LHC

In the early 1990s I was in grad school doing research for the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC).  I worked at the Texas Accelerator Center, where the "first foot" of the SSC was built.  Then I went to Fermilab, where I spent a couple years learning high energy physics and building a new type of calorimeter that would work at low-angle regions after the collision (where the radiation levels were particularly high).  

Congress started reducing the funding for the project, then cut it entirely in 1993.   My project lost its funding, and I escaped with my MS in Physics.  For years I was bitter over that whole episode, but eventually I realized that my life would have turned out very differently, perhaps for the worse, if I had stayed with the SSC.  Also, my experiences there - writing programs for data analysis, building a test system - started me down my current career path.  I can't be bitter about that.

In the 15 years since then, I've lost track of the cutting edge of high energy physics, but I still try to read up on it once in a while.  I was very excited on September 10th when they activated the Large Hadron Collider (the New York Times wrote a nice piece about it from a layman's perspective).  

So, cheers to everyone involved with the LHC.  When I was at Fermilab there was a sort of rivalry between us and CERN (where the LHC was being built), but I'm pleased that at least someone will be slamming protons into each other.  

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