Book Review: Tunnel Visions

by Michael Riordan , Lillian Hoddeson , Adrienne W. Kolb
University of Chicago Press, 2015 (($40))

Most good science stories are tales of discovery and success, but failure can be just as riveting. Here two historians and an archivist describe the greatest particle physics experiment that never was. The Superconducting Super Collider (SSC), a planned 87-kilometer ring in Texas, would have crashed protons together at higher energies than any accelerator before or since, dwarfing even the current Large Hadron Collider at CERN, where the Higgs boson was discovered. But in 1993 Congress pulled the plug on the more than $10-billion project because of cost overruns, mismanagement and changing political tides. The authors examine what went wrong and what lessons the failure of the SSC can impart in an era when such Big Science projects are increasingly central to scientific research.

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