Updated date:

The Super Collider That Was Almost in Texas & Why the U.S. Did Not Discover the Higgs Boson God Particle

Author:

Ms. Clark has a solid appreciation for hard science and likes to share interesting things she learns in the course of her research.

Waxahachie Texas: Places of interest.

This is the partially dug tunnel in Waxahachie, Texas where the Super Collider would have been.

This is the partially dug tunnel in Waxahachie, Texas where the Super Collider would have been.

Ellis County Courthouse in Waxahachie, Texas  To see photos of the Super Collider site located in Waxahachie, click on the link to the left.

Ellis County Courthouse in Waxahachie, Texas To see photos of the Super Collider site located in Waxahachie, click on the link to the left.

Several years ago, in 1983, a “Super collider,” as it was referred to then, was all set to be constructed in Waxahachie Texas. Construction did in fact get underway in 1991 and a large part of the complex that would include the particle accelerator was built. It was to have been the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, even bigger than the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva Switzerland that was used to make the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson.

Unfortunately, construction was halted in 1993 after more than 2 Billion dollars had already been spent -- cost overruns being given as the reason. Wikipedia reports that in fact, due to the cost (original estimate of 4.4 Billion) and the overrun being nearly 8 Billion dollars over the original cost estimate of the job, Congress was forced to choose between funding the U.S. Space Station, or the super collider in Waxahachie.

There was a good deal of concern at the time as I recall, by people who didn’t really understand what the project was about, or how it would accomplish it’s ultimate purpose. Many people really believed and feared that once the particle accelerator was put in motion and the particles inside were forced to collide at the speed of light, the world would come to an end. Literally.

No doubt a lot of people with little understanding of science, or specifically physics, got many of the rumors floating around mixed up. With Lederman’s book called the God Particle being released and talk that smashing atoms together could lead to changes in time and space as we knew it, all manner of wild ideas were floating, indeed flying around.

As a result a lot of people uneducated in the Higgs Theory, were against having the Super Collider (as it was popularly known in these parts), in Texas. They were convinced that scientists were going too far by messing with the “God Particles.” In their ignorance they really believed that what are now called the Higgs Bosons were somehow more Godly than other particles that make up our world.

A surprising number of people in our ‘modern’ society, were convinced that continuing with the project would surly bring the wrath of God down on our heads and end the world. They were not saddened when the project was ended in Waxahachie even though a slight recession followed in that area as a result.

What Has Become Of the Super Collider Construction in Waxahachie?

According to summerofscience on Wordpress, despite rumors of turning it into “a mushroom farm or a data site,” it has only been used as a one time filming site for a movie that most people have never heard of. For more information and photos on what has become of the Waxahachie Super Collider construction, click here.

Michio Kaku of the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel Explains How the United States Lost the Super Collider

You won’t want to miss the following video featuring Michio Kaku explaining why the Superconducting Super Collider project in Waxahachie Texas was canceled.

Michio Kaku, states Wikipedia, “is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York of City University of New York, a co-founder of string field theory, a futurist, and a “communicator” and “popularizer” of science. He has written several books about physics and related topics; he has made frequent appearances on radio, television, and film; and he writes extensive online blogs and articles. He has written two New York Times best sellers, Physics of the Impossible (2008) and Physics of the Future (2011). He has hosted several TV specials for BBC-TV, the Discovery Channel, and the Science Channel.

Dr. Kaku explains why the U.S. scrapped the Super Collider project in Texas back in 1993.

Comments

Robert Sacchi on June 05, 2017:

Thank you.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on June 05, 2017:

Robert Sacchi, thank you for reading and commenting on this article. Texas is a Republican state. 68% of Texas voters generally vote Republican and so of course the legislature is mostly Republican. That means they don't believe science has much if any value. Anything money relating to science is mostly considered charity. I don't recall talk about the financing of the supercollider so much as the fear people had that science was messing with the unknown and might very well blow up the entire planet. There really were a lot of people here who believed bad things would result if the supercollider were allowed to go forward.

Robert Sacchi on April 30, 2017:

Thank you. I remember a news story about the supercollider contraversy. It seemed the big argument against it was it would be spending a lot of money for little or no benefit. I think one phrase was "welfare for geniuses."

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 18, 2015:

Peggy W, thank you for sharing this article again. I'm sure they're doing something with the land that was originally intended for the super collider.

While it may seem like old news to you, there are lots of people around the world, around this country, and even here in Texas who are not aware that we could have had a super collider right here far bigger than the one now in existence in Europe. It would have kept the U.S. on the cutting edge of science, but we are far behind these days due to cuts in science funding. But in truth, what really matters other than raises for our esteemed hard working Congress?

Just as other parts of our history may be old news but still relevant, I think this story lets people see what idiots we have in our congress. Not only for scrapping this monumental project that would have brought jobs and more jobs to this country and the state of Texas, but like you said, how much more of our money is being spent essentially to dig holes and fill them back up?

Interesting that the party that screams about fiscal responsibility and conservative budgets is the one that blew that 2 Billion, yes with a B, 2 Billion $ away for absolutely nothing.

Hope all is well at your house . . .

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 16, 2015:

It makes one wonder how many billions are spent on other projects by our government and tax payers dollars only to be scrapped in the end. We certainly could not operate our own budgets in a similar manner! Sharing this once again even though it is old news. I wonder if that land has yet to be used for something else?

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 08, 2014:

Thank you Bill & Dorothy for reading and commenting on this article! Very much appreciate your support. Wisconsin has been a deep freeze of late. Hope all is well there . . .

Bill Clark and Dorothy on January 06, 2014:

This is interesting, and there are potentials to discover in terms of less waste and unlimited power...scary. We first became somewhat acquainted with this type of research when we were introduced to the super collider located near Geneva, Illinois. Bill-P.Prairie, Wisc

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on November 17, 2013:

Thank you for stopping by Shyron. Hope all is well . . .

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on November 14, 2013:

Au fait, it is strange that I just read this and went to make breadfast for hubby and turned on the TV and there is a PipeLine explosion in the town of Millford which is near Waxahachie.

We were looking at property there, I had to share that with you.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on November 14, 2013:

Au fait, I was just thinking about this. When we were in Illinois we lived inside the Fermi Lab ring area, and we had to have our house tested for "Radon Gas" before we could sell it so we could move down here. And yet I never thought of it as dangerous.

I did not know how far from Dalla is was going to be.

Voted up, Interesting and shared.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 06, 2013:

Thank you DDE for stopping by and commenting on this article!

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on October 03, 2013:

The Super Collider That Was Almost in Texas & Why the U.S. Did Not Discover the Higgs Boson God Particle interesting informative and well approached up on this topic.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on June 30, 2013:

Thank you Peggy W for sharing your thoughts and for tweeting and pinning this hub!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 26, 2013:

Going to share this again by tweeting and will also pin this hub. Such a gigantic waste of money!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on June 14, 2013:

Thank you for your remarks rajan jolly.

It may have saved some taxpayer's money, but millions were still spent to dig the hole (if you watched the included video and read the text), and then when the project was scrapped, more millions were spent to fill the hole back up.

So I'm not sure if it was that much savings and if the savings were worth falling behind on the world stage. There are advantages to people believing America is the best place on Earth to live -- even if it isn't true.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 10, 2013:

I'm just wondering if we have lost anything by scrapping the super collider project. At the very least, we saved all tax payer's money!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on April 25, 2013:

Deborah-Diane, thank you for reading this hub and for taking time to share your thoughts on this subject and your experience too! I really, really appreciate your doing that and I feel it adds more value to this article.

I, too, am a Christian, and I do believe the Bible version of creation, but if I read correctly in the Bible, civilized people didn't take up very much space initially, so there was plenty of room for dinosaurs elsewhere.

When home schooling my daughter we received several science publications especially for children up through the 8th grade. I remember one of them talking about paleozoologists, people who deal with the remains of animals specifically, and how some of them believed that some dinosaurs may still exist in the deepest parts of the African jungle where believe it or not, humans have not yet explored.

While I think science is a good thing, I also believe it has a lot yet to discover and learn. By its nature, science has to change what it says are facts when new information and discoveries are made. My hub on whether or not science can prove God does or does not exist explains how science has had to change or modify 'facts' over the years. I think those changes are to be expected as we develop better and better technology and learn more, so I don't see it as a negative at all.

I think science may eventually discover that people and dinosaurs did in fact exist at the same time, but on different parts of the Earth. I don't pretend to have the answer(s), but I think science is a good way to find the answer. It's a shame that some people are not willing to keep an open mind about science because in many ways it has made our lives better. I really think God is a scientist -- look at the amazing things He has created? Human scientists are trying to figure out how He did it and I think that's important.

The reason we had the dark ages is because of closed minded people. the reason we had the witch hunts was because of closed minded people. There are so many horrible events in human history and all of them can be traced to closed minds.

I don't believe God intended for us to have closed minds and I think a lot of people, Christians and atheists, agnostics, etc., have made a lot of misinterpretations of the Bible and of Christianity, which in turn leads to closed minds and horrible events such as we have in our history.

Thank you again for sharing your experience relating to the supercollider here in Texas!

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on April 20, 2013:

I was a Realtor in Texas during the time that the Super Collider was being shut down, and two of the physicists were my clients when they sold their homes and moved to states that put a higher value on science.

I love Texas and Texans. They are kind and warm-hearted. However, especially in rural areas, they do not put much value on science. They are constantly worried that a science teacher might mention how things evolve over time (oh no, evolution) or how the universe is expanding and has been growing from billions of years (oh no, Big Bang Theory). As a result, the state of Texas has also decided not to participate in the Common Core curriculum which will make it easier for students to transfer from state to state, since they will study similar information in the same grades.

As nice as the people are in Texas, I'm afraid that the Super Collider was doomed the day they decided to build it in that state rather than in a state that valued science more highly.

I love Texas and Texans, but I have long ago accepted that a large number of them do not want to hear about climate change, evolution, the age of the universe, or anything similar. I even knew otherwise intelligent people who ran successful businesses who did not believe dinosaurs ever walked this planet ... since they believe that the earth is only 10,000 years old and everything on it was created in a week.

I'm a Christian, but even I was shocked by the anti-scientific bias of many Texans. I hope that future investments in scientific research and discovery take place in other states, for the benefit of the country as a whole.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 19, 2013:

Thank you for sharing Shyron. This is an interesting bit of our history now.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 17, 2013:

Thank you for reading, commenting, voting on, and especially for sharing this hub! It does boggle the mind that so much money was spent to dig a hole and then fill it back up. It would have meant prestige not only for Texas but for the United States, which I think we're losing because we're not willing to do what it takes to stay on top.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 15, 2013:

Thank you Brett.Tesol for reading, commenting, voting on, and esecially for sharing this hub! Sometimes our politicians can leave us almost speechless . . .

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 15, 2013:

futonfraggle, thank you for stopping by, leaving a comment, and voting on this hub!

Brett C from Asia on March 14, 2013:

Very interesting. Can't believe they say pension scheme etc can't be supported and that they are struggling (which they are), but then blog 2 BILLION USDs on digging a hole and filling it in!!!

Shared, up and interesting.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 14, 2013:

Interesting and informative Au fait. will share!

futonfraggle on March 14, 2013:

Voted up and "Interesting." Thanks for sharing this info, Au fait!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 14, 2013:

Hi Au fait,

I well remember all the fuss about the super collider and the "end of the world" fears. The way our government wastes money...a billion here...a billion there...is crazy! It doesn't seem that they have yet learned how to balance a budget. It would not only have been a boost for Texas by way of prestige, but the job opportunities that would have come to our state would have been wonderful. Hopefully the site will be used for something that is worthwhile someday. Good video at the end! Up votes and will share.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 04, 2013:

Thank you PegCole17, for reading and commenting on this hub, and for sharing your memories about this issue. It surprises me how many people have forgotten that the super collider was originally going to be built right here in the U.S., and specifically in Texas.

Agree that it's a shame that the Collider wasn't completed here. Some people say it doesn't matter and that the important thing is it was built and new discoveries have been made, but in fact it's an issue of prestige in the world too.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on February 25, 2013:

Amazing information and I loved the explanation by Dr. Kaku on the video. I remember this project when it was proposed and when the construction began in Waxahachie which is near the Texas Motorplex (Ennis) where we would race on weekends. One of my former bosses was a project manager on the Super Collider who lost his job there when the project was cancelled.

It is too bad that we let this opportunity slip past our soil as it would have advanced much scientific knowledge in addition to creating many jobs.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 10, 2013:

Thank you moonlake for reaking and commenting on this hub! Yup, it was scheduled to be built right here in Texas. A shame they scrapped it. Thanks for the vote too!

moonlake from America on January 06, 2013:

Very interesting I've heard about the collider before but never realized they were going to build one in Texas. Voted up.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 19, 2012:

Thank you tammyswallow for reading and commenting on my hub! Actually, the search for the Higgs Boson goes even further back than the controversy over building the collider in Texas. Thanks for stopping by!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 17, 2012:

Thank you Jeff Gamble for reading and commenting on my hub. I was here when they were getting ready to start building the super collider and I remember how so many people really thought the world would be destroyed if the particles were forced to collide -- we were messing with God!

I think some of the confusion was probably related to the fact that it's referred to as the "God Particle." Of all the particles, the Higgs is the only one related to God you know. That's probably why we survived experiments with all those other particles -- they weren't God Particles. ;)

I remember these things so well because my husband at the time was a contractor and was bidding on parts of the construction. When I first learned that we were going to destroy the world if we proceeded with the project I thought somebody had lost their mind . . . you can't reason with people who think that way.

Tammy from North Carolina on July 16, 2012:

I am just learning about these scientific discoveries. I didn't realize the debate around this particle went back so far. You have made me want to brush up on science and history. Fantastic hub!

Jeff Gamble from Denton, Texas on July 16, 2012:

Interesting hub Au fait - There is talk of moving a concrete plant to a portion of the site in Waxahachie. While I was not living in Texas at the time, I do remember the uproar caused by misinformed or misguided folks over just what a super collider is used for. Great Hub!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 12, 2012:

Anyone who knows anything about religion knows I am not a religious person. Thank you for your lengthy response.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 11, 2012:

Thank you Shyron, for reading, commenting, and adding to the information in this hub!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 11, 2012:

Thank you Shyron, for reading, commenting, and adding to the information in this hub!

whowas on July 10, 2012:

Hi Au Fait,

Thanks for your response which I respect for its thoughtfulness and honesty. I am so fully sensible of being a 'citizen of the world' that I really don't have any personal sense of nationalism. My concern is for us all - and my 'us' includes every living thing, not just the human species! But of course, my perspective is as much a consequence of my experiences, studies and thoughts, as anyone else's differing perspective will be of theirs. Clearly I value my point of view, or I would reject it and adopt another but I cannot claim to know that it is 'the true one'. But for me, so far, it holds up under scrutiny of all kinds.

I'm an Atheist, as you are probably aware and so really couldn't make any claims about which version of the god idea is the best or which prophet the true one. I do wish, however, that there were many more religious people like you!

In a strange way, we can agree on so much - and on this fundamental point: God is not to blame. The responsibility is ours. I believe this because I don't believe God even exists. You, because your god is perfect and blameless. But we both agree that the ball is in our court; it's up to us to do the right thing.

Kindest regards as always.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 10, 2012:

whowas: Thank you for reading and giving such a thoughtful response. I very much appreciate your taking the time to add some very good points.

I agree with you overall, but I think you must realize what a feather in the cap it would have been for the U.S. and Texas if in fact this discovery had been made here. While I'm sure physicists from around the world, including the states, were involved, and that's a good thing, it still isn't the same as being able to claim the discovery here. I know that shouldn't matter, but in our materialistic world it unfortunately does matter.

It's not difficult to trump cooperation among religious groups and especially political parties. I'm not sure the words communicate and/or cooperate are even applicable to religion or politics. Sad, isn't it, because religion and politics affect everyone in our world one way or another.

I'm a Christian myself, and it saddens me the way religion is so divisive in our culture, as it seems to have always been through the ages. Unfortunately God/Jesus take a hit for this when in fact it is the wrong headed interpretation of some people that is at the root of it all.

I believe God gave us a free will, and as a result some people have twisted what He teaches through His son Jesus into something ugly. Intolerance and judgmentalism is not God's fault yet He is blamed. It is some people and their provincial attitudes, believing that they are right and anyone who differs is wrong, that is at the base of the problem. I think perhaps it is evil at its most efficient.

It is true that all boundaries are arbitrary and that in the big picture this discovery should benefit everyone, but unfortunately, as I have said, we live in a materialistic world. Short term at least, both Texas and the U.S. have lost some benefits as a result of the very sort of people you and I have both described.

Truly appreciate your sincere and thoughtful addition to this subject!

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 09, 2012:

I use to live about 3 miles from Fermi Lab, where I applied for a job, sometime in the late 1980s. Fermilab's Tevatron was a landmark particle accelerator; at 3.9 miles (6.3 km) in circumference, it was the world's second largest energy particle accelerator.

This is very interesting, and I have other information on hard copy that would be of use for the next hub on this subject. It is about the Radon gas that suposidly seeps into people's home that live close to the accelerator ring and there are companies that take advantage of this.

When we sold our house, we had to have one of these companies come in and test for Radon gas.

Interesting hub

whowas on July 09, 2012:

Thanks for that interesting hub, Au Fait.

I've known about this for sometime and there are a large number of slightly disgruntled American physicists because the LHC wasn't constructed on Texan turf. However...

...there are far more American physicists who are simply delighted and engaged by the fact that the LHC was built anywhere and that it has produced such astonishing results and so quickly.

We must remember that there is no community on Earth that is more openly communicative and cooperative on an international level than the scientific community. Beats religion and politics hands down on that score. A consequence of this fact is that, even though the thing was finally built in Switzerland, American physicists have been there, are there and have been just as deeply involved as everyone else in the research that has been carried out.

In all the reports I have read by scientists who have worked at the Cern LHC one thing that they all express is the joy of seeing the entire world joined together, working together to a common end in a spirit of enterprise and cooperation. The LHC has hosted scientists from, quite literally, every part of the planet.

Science helps us smash through the false divisions that religion and politics create: racial divisions (evolutionary biology shows us that we are all Africans); national divisions (geology and plate tectonics show us that the boundaries of our states and nations are arbitrary human divisions and that all land is in a constant unity of motion); political divisions (the scientific endeavor requires cooperation, communication and data sharing on a scale that puts all political systems to shame); religious divisions (physics and ecology show us that everything in the universe is made of the same stuff and no single entity has greater value than another) and so on.

Quite aside from the confirmation of the existence of the Higgs Bosun particle, the real beauty and lesson of the LHC is the degree of cooperation that right-minded people are capable of and the astonishing results that can be obtained by such means.

So let's not be too concerned that the LHC was built here or there. Let's celebrate the fact that through the boundary-breaking international cooperation of the scientific community it was built here on the one earth we all share and stands as a beacon of hope for what we might achieve if we put aside the false divisions of national, religious and political interests.

Thanks for a thought-provoking hub.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 08, 2012:

tillsontitan: Thank you for reading and commenting on my hub.

The estimated cost of the project was just under 7 Billion dollars. However, only 1 billion was spent (as Mr. Kaku explained in the video) basically digging the hole.

Congress halted the project when they were not given the answer they wanted. They asked if the project would mean they would find God. The answer was a round about way of saying not likely.

So, instead of fully funding the project, Congress halted the project and spent another billion dollars filling the hole back up. Our tax dollars at work, you know? This was in the early 90s I think.

This information is given in the video featuring Mr. Kaku, and it's a short video that I think people would find quite entertaining and informative if they would only watch it.

The link to the website I put in also gives all the gory details about this project with photos and everything.

Thank you again for taking time, I much appreciate it!

Mary Craig from New York on July 08, 2012:

How nice to know our government has wasted yet another 8 billion dollars! To be or not to be...work on the 'God particle' or not?

This was very enlightening AuFait. Frustrating but enlightening.

Voted up and interesting.

Related Articles