Many of you who live outside our area asked if we could record my recent talk, “Journey to the Dark Side—Dark Matter and Dark Energy.” We thought that was a great idea and we did. You can get the talk on DVD for a modest $5.95 +S/H (admission was $15 at the door - it was the largest turnout they ever had); order through the “Video Lecture Series” section on my website.



Newsletter: Administration Concedes U.S. Leadership in Fundamental Physics

The U.S. Department of Energy decided to save $35 million by closing our nation’s last high-energy particle accelerator. High-energy physics is the science of the most fundamental particles and forces of nature. Since everything we see is composed of those particles and driven by those forces, high-energy physics is generally considered to be the cutting-edge of science.


Shutting down the Tevatron at Fermi National Laboratory effectively concedes leadership in high-energy physics to other nations. Whatever future discoveries will be made in this fundamental science, will no longer be made in the U.S.


For most of a century, the U.S. enjoyed a commanding lead in high-energy physics. All six quarks, and most other important particles, were discovered by American scientists using American particle accelerators. The U.S. dominated the field, garnering over half the Nobel Prizes, attracting the best and brightest young scientists from around the world, and benefiting first and most from spin-off technologies for medical, communications and military uses. I believe particle physics will also enable development of new sources of cheap, clean, and abundant energy.


The atomic bombs, which ended World War II, were developed by high-energy physicists. We got the bomb before the Nazis and Japan (both of whom had nuclear weapons programs) because we had the best scientists and the best facilities. Imagine the cost we might have paid if we had been second best.


The Tevatron was America’s last and finest high-energy particle accelerator. American scientists at the Tevatron were competing with Europeans to discover the next major particle, the Higgs boson. DOE’s decision concedes that contest, and all discoveries in this field for the foreseeable future.


With the last space shuttle launch coming soon, the U.S. will no longer have the capability for manned space travel. In this case, we will concede our leadership to the Russians.


It’s fine to proclaim that science is essential, that we must invest in science, and that this is our “Sputnik Moment”; but talk is cheap—mere political posturing. The DOE plans to spend $30 billion this coming year and has “successfully obligated” $33 billion in stimulus funds. Yet, the administration isn’t willing to spend 1/1000th of either sum to strive for leadership in fundamental physics.


Our best and brightest scientists could go overseas to assist in European or Japanese physics research programs. Maybe it’s OK to outsource science. If so, we could save vastly more money outsourcing the nation’s defense. Our young sailors could train on British warships, allowing us to sell our costly aircraft carriers and submarines to China.


Perhaps, our shores could be protected by the British Navy, our soil protected by the French Army, and our skies protected by the Luftwaffe.




Dr. Robert Piccioni
Author of "Everyone's Guide to Atoms, Einstein, and the Universe"
and "Can Life Be Merely An Accident?"