Tunnel Visions: The Rise And Fall Of The Superconducting Super Collider

Hardcover | November 20, 2015

byMichael Riordan, Lillian Hoddeson, Adrienne W. Kolb

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Starting in the 1950s, US physicists dominated the search for elementary particles; aided by the association of this research with national security, they held this position for decades. In an effort to maintain their hegemony and track down the elusive Higgs boson, they convinced President Reagan and Congress to support construction of the multibillion-dollar Superconducting Super Collider project in Texas—the largest basic-science project ever attempted. But after the Cold War ended and the estimated SSC cost surpassed ten billion dollars, Congress terminated the project in October 1993.
           
Drawing on extensive archival research, contemporaneous press accounts, and over one hundred interviews with scientists, engineers, government officials, and others involved, Tunnel Visions tells the riveting story of the aborted SSC project. The authors examine the complex, interrelated causes for its demise, including problems of large-project management, continuing cost overruns, and lack of foreign contributions. In doing so, they ask whether Big Science has become too large and expensive, including whether academic scientists and their government overseers can effectively manage such an enormous undertaking.

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Starting in the 1950s, US physicists dominated the search for elementary particles; aided by the association of this research with national security, they held this position for decades. In an effort to maintain their hegemony and track down the elusive Higgs boson, they convinced President Reagan and Congress to support construction o...

Michael Riordan, a physicist and science historian, is author of The Hunting of the Quark and coauthor of Crystal Fire. Lillian Hoddeson, the Thomas Siebel Professor Emerita of the History of Science at the University of Illinois, is coauthor of Crystal Fire, Critical Assembly, True Genius, and Fermilab: Physics, the Frontier, and Mega...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:480 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.3 inPublished:November 20, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022629479X

ISBN - 13:9780226294797

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Table of Contents

Preface

Chapter 1  Origins of the Super Collider
Chapter 2  A New Frontier Outpost, 1983–88
Chapter 3  Selling the Super Collider, 1983–88
Chapter 4  Settling in Texas, 1989–91
Chapter 5  Washington and the World, 1989–92
Chapter 6  The Demise of the SSC, 1991–1994
Chapter 7  Reactions, Recovery, and Analysis

Epilogue  The Higgs Boson Discovery

Appendix 1. Physics at the TeV Energy Scale
Appendix 2. List of Interviews

Acknowledgments
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

"Physicists create particle collisions so they can sift through the debris for clues to how nature is put together. The authors of Tunnel Visions see the SSC’s demise as a saga of colliding communities, which they sift through for clues to understand the interactions involved in large scientific projects. This book raises important questions about how to build, coordinate, and manage the network of leaders, administrators, overseers, and congressmen needed for large scientific projects in the 21st century—and about how this network, if ruptured, can be repaired. This is a fascinating, well-researched account of a turning point in American science."