Saving Fermilab

Posted on May 31, 2008  Comments (0)

Fermilab was once the premiere particle physics research lab. It is still a very important research lab. But, I have said before, other countries are the ones making the larger efforts lately to invest in science and technology centers of excellence that the US was making in the 1960’s and 1970’s: Economic Strength Through Technology Leadership, Investing in Technology Excellence, etc..

I have also said that the past success of the US has left it in a still very strong position. For example, the anonymous donor that saved Fermilab with a $5 million donation likely benefited from the successful investments in science centers of excellence in the past (few countries – maybe 30, can rely on large donations from wealthy individuals, to sustain centers of excellence and I don’t think any approach what the USA has now – Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Standford, MIT…).

Excellent post on the the saving of Fermilab, To the person who saved Fermilab: Thank You.:

The facility has recently seen financial difficulties which have resulted in the layoffs of research staff and dramatic cuts in experiments. The world class research facility has been left to scrape together funds to pay the bills and has even had to auction off equipment and ask staff members to take pay cuts just to keep the lights on in the laboratories.

Fermilab also has an illustrious history of achievements in the field of supercomputer development and parallel processing. Fermilab has been on the forefront of applying supercomputing to physics research and is one of the top supercomputing centers of the world. Fermilab has claimed the world’s most powerful supercomputer on multiple occasions – although the title is rarely held long by any system due to the continuous advancements in computing. In recent years, Fermilab has been a leader in the development of “lattice” supercomputing systems and has developed methods for efficiently utilizing the power of multiple supercomputers in different locations through more [efficient] distribution practices.

To some, the construction of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN may seem to reduce the importance of Fermilab’s capabilities, but this is not at all the case. Although the LHC may take the title for the overall size and energy levels of a particle accelerator, Fermilab remains a uniquely capable particle physics research institution. Though less powerful, the Tevatron is able to operate for longer periods of time than the LHC and will likely require less downtime for maintenance, allowing for greater access and numerous types of research activities.

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