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Most Powerful Accelerator Planned

December 9, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States will kick in $531 million to help build the world’s most powerful particle accelerator under an agreement signed by the Energy Department.

``We may obtain a deeper understanding of the origins of the universe and how the fundamental building blocks of matter are assembled,″ Energy Secretary Federico Pena said Monday before signing the contract. ``Humankind’s self-comprehension and our ability to understand the universe could be profoundly enriched.″

The Large Hadron Collider will be the world’s most powerful particle accelerator when it is completed in 2005. Under construction in Geneva, Switzerland, at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, known as CERN, the $2.6 billion accelerator will allow scientists to accelerate protons at rates just under the speed of light and smash them at energies higher than those ever reached by a machine. Results of the collisions will allow physicists to study the structure of matter in unprecedented detail, Pena said.

``I have no doubt that when the history of the next 50 years is written, the Large Hadron Collider and all of the science, new ideas and technologies it spawns will be a major chapter,″ Pena said.

The Energy Department will provide $450 million for materials and services provided by three of its national laboratories: Brookhaven, Berkeley and Fermi. The National Science Foundation will contribute the rest of the money _ about $81 million _ for components.

Congress in 1993 killed a similar project, the super-conducting super collider, that was being built in Texas at a cost of $11 billion, after $2 billion in state and federal funds already had been spent on the giant machine.

More than 550 U.S. scientists from dozens of universities and six national laboratories are collaborating on the design and construction of the components being used to build the detectors inside the Large Hadron Collider. The government expects about a quarter of the nation’s high-energy physics community to conduct research at the collider when it is completed.

Japan, Canada, Russia, India and Israel also are helping to build the accelerator.

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