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U.S. closes major atom smasher after 25 years

(Xinhua)

17:39, October 01, 2011

CHICAGO, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Tevatron, a 25-year-old atom smasher in Batavia, Illinois, run by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, was shut down for the last time on Friday afternoon, according to a report of Chicago Tribune.

Tevatron's closure, which marks the end of a quarter-century of U.S. dominance in high-energy particle physics, was attributed to the U.S. Department of Energy's decision not to spend the 35 million dollars needed to extend the Tevatron's operation through 2014.

Helen Edwards, the lead scientist for the construction of the Tevatron in the 1980s, terminated the final store in the Tevatron, which uses magnets cooled to minus 450 degrees Fahrenheit to push the particles at nearly the speed of light.

It has made major contributions to physics, including the discovery of three of the 17 particles thought fundamental to the universe. And in 1995, it achieved its biggest success, finding a subatomic particle called the top quark, the last of six fundamental building blocks of matter to be discovered.

Meanwhile, it also became a prime training ground for two generations of young physicists. And the Fermilab hopes to be able to conclude from Tevatron data that either the Higgs boson does not exist or that it's still a plausible theory.

Physicists at the U.S. lab will turn to conduct a smaller and more focused project to study the universe in a new way. The new venture, called Project X, could cost up to 2 billion dollars, but it has no funding yet.

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