During a ceremony that must have involved the blaring of Wagner or Don Giovanni's final aria, and with readings from The Divine Comedy, the last of the more than 1700 magnets of the Large Hadron Collider was “symbolically” lowered into the tunnels at CERN.
Where Science is the de facto New Religion, the entire CERN complex its Cathedral, and the paroxysm of atoms incorporated into its Eucharistic rite, a virgin was also sacrificed. Or maybe not.
But seriously, the photos, which can all be viewed here, made us wonder whatever happened to the $12 billion Superconducting Super Collider. Before it was cancelled in 1993, “seventeen shafts were sunk and 23.5 km (14.6 miles) of tunnel were bored.” That is almost as long as the 17-mile CERN tunnel housing the Large Hadron Collider.
As it turns out, “after the project was canceled,” we read in Wikipedia, “the main site was deeded to Ellis County, Texas and the county tried numerous times to sell the property. The property was finally sold in August of 2006 to an investment group led by the late J.B. Hunt. Collider Data Center has contracted with GVA Cawley to market the site as a Tier III or Tier IV Data Center.”
Where the Big Bang might have been simulated endlessly, extra dimensions observed for the first time, and the fundamental construct of Nature elucidated, it might soon be filled with the buying patterns of ex-urbanites at Wal-Mart, hilariously awful credit ratings of college graduates, and our entire archive of bukkake porn. What a pity.
Then again one can hope to persuade the Collider Data Center LLC to sponsor an Artist Residence Program in the mold of CLUI's Wendover Residence Program. What one can contemplate amidst an over-abundance of landscape and monumental geological erasure (not to mention in the context of wasted billions of dollars, hundreds of hurt scientists, and Congressional politics) is potentially breathtaking.