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Tunnel VisionsThe Rise and Fall of the Superconducting Super Collider$
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Michael Riordan, Lillian Hoddeson, and Adrienne W. Kolb

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226294797

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226305837.001.0001

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Selling the Super Collider, 1983–88

Selling the Super Collider, 1983–88

(p.77) Chapter Three Selling the Super Collider, 1983–88
Tunnel Visions

Michael Riordan

Lillian Hoddeson

Adrienne W. Kolb

University of Chicago Press

The SSC had to be “sold” to Congress and US taxpayers, for a project costing billions of dollars required strong public support. Central Design Group physicists kept Congress and its staffers informed about the project’s scientific goals with colorful brochures and frequent visits. But newspaper and magazine articles aimed at non-physicist readers typically emphasized the collider’s great size and high cost over its research. Other scientists (especially condensed-matter physicists) began questioning the project — ultimately before Congress. DOE officials also found the SSC a hard sell at foreign science agencies, especially in Europe. Partly to help build support for the project, DOE initiated a national SSC site-selection competition in 1987. Most states championed their “green-field” sites, while Illinois advocated building the collider adjacent to Fermilab, reusing its existing infrastructure. From the eight sites named as finalists in December 1987, DOE officials selected the Waxahachie, Texas, site in November 1988.

Keywords:   public outreach, site selection, science policy, condensed-matter physicists, US competitiveness, foreign contributions, site geology, environmental impact, quark-barrel politics

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