The unprecedented hunt for the the Higgs boson or "God particle" may have culminated at Europe's largest particle accelerator, but it was the product of an effort that began thousands of miles away at another atom smasher beneath the Illinois prairie.
The hunt for the Higgs boson, "God particle" or goddamn particle, the one that gives things mass, came closer to an end on July 4. Physicists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Europe, the world’s largest particle accelerator, found evidence of the particle and its energy field. But the LHC didn’t do it alone. The search has been a massive, costly and unprecedented international effort that began thousands of miles away, at another atom smasher beneath the Illinois prairie.
When the Tevatron opened in 1983 at Fermi National Laboratory, outside Chicago, it was the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, designed to smash protons and antiprotons together in order to see what makes up the universe. It was the dream of Robert Wilson, who grew up as a cowboy in Frontier, Wyoming, and who founded and designed the lab as an artistic symbol of the country’s thrust into the frontier of physics; epic buildings, sculptures, and buffalo were mainstays. And the Tevatron was the centerpiece.