Let me add some info on the general question of big particle
accelerators and their hidden uses.
A couple of decades ago US physicists were hot to build a big
accelerator - called the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC). It was to
be underground in Texas; and the federal government was going to pay
most of the bill, with perhaps some funds from other countries. All my
colleagues were excited and some of them deeply involved in the planning.
When I learned that then-President Reagan had approved the project, I
wondered, Why? So I wrote a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) letter to
the DOD (Department of Defense) asking for copies of all their documents
relating to the SSC. They responded that this was not a DOD project but
a DOE (Department of Energy) project; and I should redirect my inquiry
to that department. I wrote back: No, I want all DOD documents on this
subject. Maybe a year or so later I did get what I asked for: a small
collection of documents. One of them was marvelously educational.
This was a letter from the Office of the Secretary of Defense to the
White House, giving DOD's formal support for the SSC project. It
explained that it was possible, but not likely, that the experiments on
the SSC might lead to some militarily useful discoveries. However, the
major reason for military support of the project lay in the history of
particle accelerators and their production of large numbers of skilled
PhDs, who ended up working at the nuclear weapons labs at Livermore and
Los Alamos. That letter was signed by the Assistant Secretary of
Defense for Atomic Energy, who just happened to be a former leader at
the Livermore Laboratory.
When I circulated that letter to my colleagues, many of them became
unhappy; but they got over it and continued with their project -- until
Congress cut off the funding for the SSC a few years later.
Along a similar vein, I have wondered why the government has been so
generous with funding in recent years for astrophysics research. It is
certainly an exciting field of pure science. And all that money flowing
into academic research programs produces a lot of graduate students in
those fields, who get their PhD and then go to work --- where? (The US
Air Force is very interested in space weaponry.)
Robt Mann wrote:
> Sam Anderson wrote:
>> An $18Billion capitalist investment ready to either yield profits for
>> Big Capital and/or put PlanetEarth in Harms Way...
> I hve found these big accelerators hard to reconcile with any
> simple model of capitalism. At Berkeley, with house-mates doing their
> Ph.Ds in physics using the then-biggest ('bevatron') on the hill above
> the campus, I was never able to trace military or financial benefit
> from the plurry thang. My working hypothesis has been that this
> category of expenditure is an example of cunning grandiose scientists
> pulling the wool over the eyes of politicians, duping them into paying
> for something which has little prospect of leading to weapons, or
> defence, or money for capitalists.
> Capitalism is not totally efficient!
> Did the USSR ever try to rival even the bevatron, let alone
> the subsequent bigger accelerators? They certainly did get sucked
> into enormous wasteful expenditure on many thousands of nuclear
> weapons, and the fabled 'strategic triad' to deliver them, when
> standard British doctrine was that a few dozen nuclear weapons
> deliverable reliably on the heartland of the enemy constitutes maximum
>> August 8, 2008
>> *Date Set for Operation of Large Hadron Collider*
>> By DENNIS OVERBYE
>> Physicists, start your engines.
>> Officials at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, outside
>> Geneva, announced Thursday that their new particle accelerator, the
>> world's largest, would begin operation on Sept. 10. On that date, the
>> physicists and engineers will make the first attempt to circulate a
>> beam of protons around a 17-mile-long super-cooled underground
>> racetrack known as the Large Hadron Collider.