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Testimony on the SSC before the U. S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources and Development;
on April 12, 1988.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I am Dr. Andrew M. Sessler from the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California. I am an accelerator physicist who has worked through the years on the theoretical ideas which are employed in the design of high energy physics accelerators. For a seven year period, 1973-1980, I was director of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL) in which position I had the responsibility of managing and directing a facility with a budget of over 100M$ per year. This year I am chairman of the American Physical Society (APS) Panel on Public Affairs. (I have supplied the committee staff with a short curriculum vitae.) The opinions expressed herein are, of course, my own and are not necessarily those of LBL or the
I would like in this testimony to first comment upon the state of technology and the SSC. Second, I want to comment upon the opportunities and fiscal needs of physics II. Technology
and the SSC.
For the last 5 years or so, I have worked on novel acceleration techniques investigating methods that would be used in machines beyond the SSC, namely on large electron-positron (as contrasted with proton) colliders. Some of these new methods I have described in a recent article in Physics Today, a copy of which I have supplied to the committee staff.
Let me say that in my view the SSC is at the frontier of technology. It proposes to employ advanced techniques, but I have every reason to believe it can be made to work as predicted. The history of accelerators is a stellar history in which time and again machines have been built "on time" and "on budget". I believe that the SSC could properly fit into this tradition.
Could new technologies such as the high temperature superconductors be used in the SSC? I don't believe so; certainly not for a decade or more and possibly never. You know the detailed arguments; I needn't go into them here, but I want to make clear that I find these arguments compelling.
Could novel acceleration techniques be employed to accomplish what the SSC seeks to do and do it for less cost? If we examine the new techniques we discover that none are ready to be incorporated into a machine at this time. At least 5 years, and possibly 10 years, of intense R&D is needed before these new methods are available. (I am devoting years of my life to the subject and I am optimistic that the R&D will "pay off".) Once the new techniques are available, it will take another 5 years or so to construct a machine. Finally, such a machine will not be cheap: an accelerator capable of studying the same physics as the SSC would cost billions of dollars.
III. Physics Opportunities and Needs Physics research has received essentially the same amount of dollars per year over the last decade. The result has been very serious. It doesn't matter if you
examine teaching facilities in universities, look at small research, or study large laboratories and their associated facilities, the conclusion is always the same. The signs of inadequate funding are everywhere to be seen: poor, old, often non-functioning teaching and training equipment; distinguished researchers on (say) superconductivity having their meagre support reduced (even this year!); large accelerators typically being operated only 60% of optimal utilization-time in order to save on the electric power bill.
To remedy this situation will require increased support of physics. In the attached graphs, based on work by the Panel on Public Affairs of the American Physical Society, I have indicated the carefully considered needs in Condensed Matter Science, Plasma Physics, Nuclear Physics, and High Energy Physics. (See Fig. 1.) In the Table I have indicated the major new facilities whose earliest possible construction is strongly desired by the community and very much needed in my opinion. The figures include these new facilities as well as a growth in "small
You can see that the sum of these needs requires more than a factor of two increase in the funding of physics research, as is shown in constant dollars in Fig. 2, and then in current dollars in Fig. 3.
IV. SSC Funding I believe we don't want to tell the high energy physicists to build something other than the SSC. It is the overwhelming view of that community that the SSC is the
device of choice and, as I have said, alternative devices can't be built at this time.
The arguments for "getting on with it" you have heard, I need not repeat them. They have to do with everything from training of new people, through not losing the accumulated expertise in this generation, to the need, excellence, importance,
and excitement of the science.
Of course all of the above arguments can be made by the scientists in other branches of physics. And those arguments are equally valid and, I hope, equally compelling. As I have said, a large increase in funding for all physics is needed.
Should the SSC be authorized? In order to answer that question, I must ask another question: In what context? I can imagine a number of different "contexts":
1) If there is a general increase - by about a factor of two in physics funding then, of course, the SSC should be approved. (Note that this requires not only construction funds, but even with economies being made in other aspects of high energy physics an increase in operating funds for high energy physics from 532 M$/yr to 800 M$/year. (FY'88 dollars])
2) An alternative context is one in which funding of the SSC would have the consequence of reducing the funding in other branches of physics. This possibility causes deep concern amongst all physicists. Even the high energy physicists have stated that they don't desire this outcome. I would not support the SSC if I thought the consequence would be a reduction in funding of other branches of physics.
3) Very likely, the appropriate context is somewhere between these two alternatives. Perhaps, if the SSC is given "the green light" then the increased funding in high energy physics would "raise the ante" and result, in due time, in increased funding in other fields of physics. (A kind of "trickle down" effect.) We must note, however, the deep concern on the part of most physicists that approval of the SSC will be still another initiation of a very noticeable, glamorous "big science" project without adequate appreciation of the importance and support of "small science". Even though this "trickle down" effect may be real, I believe the need for visible support in all areas of physics is so important that I would not support SSC approval
in this context.
4) Still another context is that in which approval of the SSC will come with a modest increase of support across the board -- to all of physics. One could plan on initiating the SSC this year, then a nuclear science project (e.g. RHIC) next year, etc. Such a program needs to be combined with a commensurate increase in "small science"; i.e. in an increase in operating funds for basic physics in the DOE and NSF. Physics is in need of both large facilities and increased funding of the base program. If the Congress would couple approval of the SSC with an increase in operating funds for the base program then I would support approval of the SSC.
A "piecemeal" approach of approving only the SSC and doing nothing else for physics would be ill advised and in fact divisive for physics. In my opinion the Congress should approve the SSC but couple this approval with increased support