Science: Ssc: Lord of the Rings

When President Reagan formally endorsed the superconducting supercollider (SSC) last January, it seemed likely that the $4.4 billion, 53-mile- circumferen ce particle accelerator would be completed on schedule in 1996. But the recent breakthroughs in superconductivity have raised some questions about the 10,000 powerful magnets needed to keep streams of protons on course as they speed around the huge ring.

Should SSC designers move ahead with plans to use conventional, low- temperature superconducting magnets, known quantities that are already in place and operating at Fermilab's Tevatron accelerator in Batavia, Ill.? Or should they hold off indefinitely, awaiting development of the new...

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