Congress soon will be deciding the fate of the Superconducting Super Collider—the $11 billion Department of Energy atom smasher. After five years of skyrocketing cost estimates and increasing skepticism about the scientific merit of the SSC, there is now growing support on Capital Hill for pulling the plug on what would be one of the most expensive science projects ever undertaken by the federal government. The administration, however, has been lobbying furiously to spare the SSC from the budget knife and even proposes a 30 percent increase in the project’s budget.
The SSC appears to be an ill-conceived project with weak economic justification but a tremendous amount of special interest support. With federal deficit spending rising to new heights, satisfying the curiosity of a small segment of the scientific community should not be considered a high national priority.