Good-Bye to the Tevatron?

Back from the holidays, the big rumour of today: The Tevatron will be shutting down at the end of the year after not getting the funding extension from the DOE.

So today on Twitter, Lisa Randall tweeted that we’ll be saying good-bye to the Tevatron this year.  Currently, no statement from the DOE or Fermilab has gone out publicly confirming this, however, but, it’s very likely to be true.  The rumour has been floating around for awhile, but researchers were still holding out for additional funding to push the project into 2012 and beyond.  Those at ISP220 today, say that it was announced to them that the DOE had denied further funding, and that the Tevatron wouldn’t see operations past the end of 2011.

See Chip Brock‘s tweet for example:

I’m sure we’ll all be pouring a drink for the Tevatron this year.

Update 3:30pm EST:

Official news from the Tevatron, they’ll be shutdown by October 1st, 2011.  Still no announcement from Fermilab Today.

Update 3:50pm EST: Letter from the DOE

There is now a letter from the DOE, dated January 6th, 2011, explaining why funding for the Tevatron could not be continued. See the pdf of the letter from the Department of Energy here or read it here:

Professor Melyn Shochet
Chairman, High Energy Physics Advisory Panel
Department of Physics
University of Chicago
5630 S. Ellis Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

Dear Professor Shochet:

I am writing to convey the Office of Science’s response to the recent High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) report on extending the operation of the Tevatron at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. As you know the Office of Science received in the summer of 2010 a widely supported proposal to extend operation of the Tevatron through FY 2014. At our request, HEPAP and its subpanel, Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5), responded quickly and analzed both the physics merits of the proposal and the potential impacts on the rest of the field. HEPAP and P5 provided valuable and timely advice to the Office of Science that informed our FY 2012 budget request. I thank HEPAP and P5 for these efforts.

In summary, P5 found the proposed physics program had significant scientific value and would complement what can be accomplished at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in the same time period, but recognized that without additional funding the extension of Tevatron operations would delay progress on the development of the Intensity Frontier program by HEP. P5 therefore recommended that extension of the operation of the Tevatron be approved only if additional funds were available to HEP, and encouraged the funding agencies to find the necessary resources. Unfortunately, the current budgetary climate is very challenging and additional funding has not been identified. Therefore, based in part on the P5 recommendation, operation of the Tevatron will end in FY 2011, as originally scheduled.

The strategic plan for the US particle physics program, developed by P5, attacks the most important scientific questions in three broad areas of the field: the Energy, Intensity, and Cosmic Frontiers. The Energy Frontier has passed to the LHC, where the first year of data collection recently was completed. Accelerator performance at the LHC improved dramatically during 2010, achieving increases of several orders of magnitude in instantaneous luminosity. U.S. Scientists play a major role in the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at the LHC, with both experiments publishing early physics results that clearly demonstrate the impressive capabilities of these detectors. Given the LHC performance to date, it appears likely that experiments at the LHC either will rule out or discover a standard model Higgs boson by late 2012, addressing this pressing topic in particle physics in a timely manner. Support for activities at the LHC continues to have high priority in the HEP program.

The HEP program also calls for a world-leading program centred at FNAL to probe the Standard Model using a complementary approach of high intensity beams. This program aims to measure the fundamental properties of neutrinos and to develop a new high intensity proton source. In evaluating the proposed Tevatron extension, the P5 committee emphasized the importance of developing this Intensity Frontier program and we have made implementation of this program a cornerstone of future HEP activities.

In conclusion, I want to personally thank you and the members of HEPAP and P5 for your prompt and thoughtful response to our request for advice.

Sincerely yours,

W.F. Brinkman
Director, Office of Science
U.S. Department of Energy

There are no surprises here, although it’s sad to see the end of an era.

Update 4:20pm EST: See letter to Fermilab Community

Symmetry Magazine has a letter from Fermilab Director Pier Oddone to the community on the news. “While we would have liked to run the Tevatron for three more years, our life going forward is full of promising projects and great opportunities for major discoveries.”

*Yes, Twitter is how this story came about.

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10 Responses to Good-Bye to the Tevatron?

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  7. J.L.Lee says:

    So what’s the plan? …Turn it into a diner, amusement park ride, or a McDonald’s?

  8. Pingback: Bad News For Particle Physics (in the United States) « The Greater World

  9. Nalliah Thayabharan says:

    Incompetence of the US in managing science & space programs is the sign of the decline of USA. Voters are more interested in watching Bachelor and Desperate Housewives and Dancing with the Stars than science and space programs. Politicians are more interested in getting re-elected than science and space programs.
    Nalliah Thayabharan

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