America Blows Chance to Lead World in Scientific Discovery

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Thanks to some great research by the people at The Washington Post and Fortune, we are now reminded why America is no longer the country of shared sacrifice in order to strive for big things.

Brad Plumer’s article explains that America had the opportunity to create a Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) in 1992 but Congress voted against funding. Everything was set up for the collider to take place in Texas including land, tunnels and magnets to accelerate protons. It would have been epic.

The SSC would have cost the U.S. $10 billion. Everything was planned out. Texas would have been the home of the SSC. It would have accelerated protons to 20 TeV, which is three-times the maximum energy the CERN Large Hardon Collider has available.

Since the search for the Higgs boson particle is dependent on the speed in which scientists can smash particles together—essentially breaking them down to more basic particles—the SSC in Texas could have been more accurate and more powerful in the search for this elusive Higgs boson particle.

Not only could this particle have been found decades earlier, but the U.S. could have had bragging rights. So many times we talk about how the U.S. is an exceptional country, but I can’t help but think that we are more of a country of exceptions—meaning we expect more from others than we do of ourselves. The things America is exceptional at are not the values that I hold.

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Leading the world in military spending, the percentage of obese persons, the highest incarceration rates and tying for first place in the amount of hours of television consumed weekly is not something I am proud of. I might be part of the minority, but I think leading the world in scientific discoveries is more admirable than war.

Unsurprisingly, the SSC project was scrapped because members of Congress in 1992 were afraid of being seen as over-spenders—because spending $10 billion to advance human knowledge is too burdensome, but spending $20 billion for air conditioning in Afghanistan and Iraq isn’t.

I can’t help but think of how this information would have been applied towards new technology and ideas that would help to make America a better country for everyone. But for now, it’s just another dropped pass in the end zone by America.

Cradle that reception and hold onto it like it’s your baby, please!


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