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FYI Number 11: January 31, 2002

Panel Recommends Construction of High-Energy Linear Accelerator

"The U.S. has achieved its leadership position through the generous support of the American people. We renew and reaffirm our commitment to return full value for the considerable investment made by our fellow citizens. This commitment includes, but is not limited to, sharing our intellectual insights through education and outreach, providing highly trained scientific and technical manpower to help drive the economy, and developing new technologies that foster the health, wealth and security of our nation and of society at large."

- DOE/NSF High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel Subpanel on Long Range Planning for U.S. High-Energy Physics

A $5 to $7 billion high-energy, high-luminosity, linear particle accelerator is the centerpiece of a twenty-year "road map" for high energy physics research in a report that was released on Monday. The 100-page report is the result of a year's effort by a subpanel of 22 physicists chaired by Jonathan Bagger of The John Hopkins University and Barry Barish of Caltech. The report was released at the outset of a two day meeting held in Washington, and can be read at

"Our highest priority is full participation in the design, construction and operation of this exciting new facility, wherever in the world it is sited," the report states. Fermilab's Tevatron collider is the world's highest energy accelerator. CERN's Large Hadron Collider, now under construction and scheduled for operation later this decade, will have seven times the energy of the Tevatron. The LHC will collide protons against protons. The proposed high-energy linear particle accelerator would collide electrons against positrons.

"We recommend that the United States prepare to bid to host the linear collider, in a facility that is international from the inception," the subpanel recommends. The report carefully describes why having the facility in the U.S. is preferred, with reasons ranging from the highly tangible to the less tangible. "As a flagship facility for 21st century science, the linear collider could be a centerpiece of a national effort to boost the physical sciences," the subpanel concludes.

One of the speakers at the meeting remarked that the future of this road map will "clearly [require] a high level decision of the federal government." Once a decision is made to participate in the construction of the proposed collider, decision makers will then have to consider offshore and onshore scenarios. Financing will likely be a major consideration. As envisioned, the new collider would cost $5 to $7 billion. If built in the United States, the subpanel estimates that one-third of the accelerator's cost would be provided though international contributions. Another $1 to $2 billion would come from a "realignment" of the current U.S. particle physics program. The remainder of the funding would be provided through an increase in federal funding for high energy physics program. An offshore accelerator would require an estimated 10% increase in funding, while an onshore facility would require an estimated 30% increase in federal funding. DOE high energy physics funding has recently been relatively stable, with FY 2003 funding set at $712 million.

International participation in the construction of the facility will be required. A statement by the European Committee for Future Accelerators remarked that this is "the first time that the world community has shown such a common and unanimous view of the next steps necessary to unravel the basic structure of our universe and on the tools to follow this path."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095

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