October 4, 2011

Tevatron shuts off; Batavia electricity bill plummets

The Tevatron particle accelerator, once the crown jewel of the Fermi National Accelerator Lab, powered down last Friday, September 30 after 28 years of operation. Fermi had to shut down the accelerator after it failed to secure adequate federal funding.

Staff and associated researchers from around the world watched as the four mile-long particle accelerator closed its doors for the last time. In a forty minute shutdown procedure, Fermi staff turned off the CDF and DZero detectors and dumped the final store, beams of protons and anti-protons zooming out into the Illinois air.

However, though the Tevatron may no longer be a site of groundbreaking physics research, the machinery itself still has its spark.

The superconducting magnets that guided the beams must be reheated from the 4.8 Kelvins at which they are usually kept, and it will take more time to completely remove the cooling fluids and gases from CDF and DZero. It will take another estimated three months to fully shut down DZero, putting the beloved Tevatron to rest, but marking the dawn of a new era at Fermilab.