Why Wasn’t the Higgs Boson Discovered in the US? Neal DeGrasse Tyson explains congressional stupidity

Scientists at a conference in Italy have confirmed the discovery of the Higgs Boson, after further experiments performed at the large hadron collider near Geneva in Switzerland, built in the late ’90s by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) with the cooperation of 10,000 scientists.

The Higgs Boson is associated with a field that endows particles with mass, sort of the way cornstarch thickens up gravy and creates the resistance you feel when you stir it thereafter with a spoon.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson explains on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS that the US could have discovered the Higgs Boson.

We had begun building the supercollider in Texas, and had spent $2 billion. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Congress abruptly decided we did not need it and decommissioned it (that cost hundreds of millions of dollars). It is true that its projected cost had risen from $4.4 bn to $12 bn., and that some scientists worried that it would cause other federally-funded science to be slighted. But it should be noted that the US Congress later appropriated $20 billion for Iraq reconstruction, almost all of which was wasted, and $8 bn. of which was outright embezzled, and from which the US saw no benefit whatsoever.

The anti-intellectual, anti-science tradition in Congress is so powerful that climate-change deniers and evolution deniers (i.e. crackpots) now head major science committees in the House of Representatives.

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11 Responses

  1. The SSC was sited in Texas for political reasons. Unfortunately, they could not find very many top rank physicists willing to live in Texas. That, I think, had as much to do with the project being abandoned as anything else.

  2. This really is something normal Americans have to sort out. It seems, from the outside (me,UK), that in the US a very few are allowed to shout down a very lot! Why?

  3. Very true, but the anti-intellectual, anti-science mindset that gave $20 billion to Iraq (and of course the real figure goes into the trillions) is also bolstered mightily by a hefty dose of racism and aggressive, reptilian, and ultimately cowardly war mongering. Three trillion for Iraq and Afghanistan? Here war department, take all you f*****g want. You want how much more for cancer research NIH? Talk to the hand!


  4. Early 1990’s, he said… who was in control of Congress in the early 1990’s? And remember, the “Republican Revolution” didn’t take effect until January 3, 1995.

  5. Also blame the Clinton administration for not pushing hard enough. The case they made to congress to keep the funding going was weak at best.

    It came down to either the SCSC or the space station and because the space station had more international links it got picked. Remember, the space station was to keep Russian scientists at work and not have them go to North Korea & Iran.

  6. Well, okay, but I personally don’t care where it was discovered. And there were plenty of U.S. scientists involved in the project. I say, we’ve been paying for the (ostensible if in fact unnecessary) defense of Europe since 1945, and we have also invested the most in biomedical research. (We need to keep it up, to be sure.) Let them pay for the SSC.

    • I get a bit miffed when people complain about the US paying for the ‘defense of Europe for decades’. Back in the days of bi=partisan foreign policy, the consensus in the 60s through 80s, was for the US insist that Europe not band together and build up their own defensive/offensive capabilities. The thought was that the US could loose control of the Cold War theater. The US famously pushed back on De Gualle.

    • The problem here is, the capitalists starve the American people of education and science to cut taxes and to make them ignorant enough to lure back into 19th century deregulation and property rights. But they figure their corporations will be fine because they can always temporarily import Chinese and Indian tech-heads to brainstorm the profitable stuff. I.e, since our corporations are tied to our banks and our dollar, we can always outbid poor countries for brainpower. The Higgs boson does not deliver any royalty payments to the country that discovers it, so Wall Street doesn’t give a damn.

      In the long run, all of this is catastrophic. Basic paradigm shifts in technology can create huge swings in technological power. For instance, when a British hustler stole a state secret – the spinning jenny – and hightailed it to the US to create our textiles industry. Or the inability of America to understand the value of technologies it HAD developed – but which Japan exploited.

      I guess if the Higgs boson could be used to nuke foreigners and get away with it, we’d be all over it.

  7. And now they can fill that big old hole with their favorite tar sands oil.
    You might think American capitalists would know the difference between a project that would pay off in their future and one that will be obsolete, if it is not already.
    American capitalism is, “it must be instant, now! There is no future so why plan for one.”
    Think clean renewal power.

  8. Why does it matter who discovered it? It’s an advance for human knowledge not European or American… I find it depressing that people import their idiotic us-them psychoses into the fields of science and art where they are and should be alien…

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