Berkeley Cyclotron to Closes
Tuesday, February 4 2003
Posted on the Oakland Tribune
The following was originally posted on the Oakland Tribune:
On Monday, science executives in the Bush administration proposed to
shut down the cyclotron and end its 42 years of searching for new elements
and new insights into the atomic nucleus.
The reason: Government budgets for physics are tight, and newer, more capable machines need the money.
...Like the U.S. manned space program, the 88-inch cyclotron was one of America's answers to Sputnik. Several hundred physicists worked its beams -- at first consisting of lightweight protons and helium nuclei and, later, elements as heavy as uranium -- in hunting for new superheavy elements and the inner structure of the nucleus. Half of the scientists came from the lab or its partners; almost half were from abroad.
They built an array of gadgets, recently including the Gammasphere, soon to make its Hollywood debut as the birthplace of the Hulk in an upcoming movie. In reality, the Gammasphere read the nature of rapidly spinning matter by its gamma ray emissions.
This really is not as bad as it seems. A friend of mine is a PHD student in Physics at Berkeley and said that all that is really happening is that they are closing down a machine that was state of the art 40 years ago and replacing it with a next generation gammashere. Hmm... this could be a great plot device for the next film. The Abomination anyone?
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