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A Circle of Permanently Unfinished Business

Remember the Super Conducting Super Collider?

Its official name was the Ronald Reagan Center for High Energy Physics. 

I was in Waxahachie when the collider was announced. The euphoria was distinct as that elation when the U.S. was working to put men on the moon and the astronauts lived in the Houston area.  We were going to build a 54-mile circle to study fundamentals of the universe.  The Super Collider’s office was to be in Ellis County and operated by a consortium of 66 universities called the Universities Research Association.   Roy Schwitters of Harvard was to be the director.

All the glory of the Large Hadron Super Collider was to be in Texas.  The Texas collider was to be three times the size of the Swiss structure.  Land was acquired through eminent domain and sales, and 17 shafts to 14 miles of tunnel had been built.

Several friends relocated Ellis County to be a part of the scientific and technical infrastructure.  The structure of space and time was to be discovered.  

Then the bubble popped.

When the project was almost a quarter done, and more than $2 billion spent, Congress terminated the project in 1993.  My friends along with 15,000 others lost their jobs.  The economic hit created a mild recession for that area of the greater Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

The land was deeded to Ellis County. After proposals ranging from mushroom farms to underground prisons, Ellis County unloaded the property a few years ago to a data company.

Since that time, the U.S. spent $5 billion to participate in the much smaller Swiss collider.  Data already is being generated by the facility.  All that investment and brain power now revolves that 17-mile circle near Geneva.

Texas had it and lost it.