The House Science Committee in Washington today approved funding next year for the MIT Bates Linear Accelerator Center and accelerators at four other universities, all of which had been marked for closure by a June 8 subcommittee vote. Rep. Peter Torkildsen (R-Mass.) said the move restores the $18 million budget for the MIT facility in Middleton, Mass. which employs 122 people and serves 250 scientists and 52 graduate students throughout the nation.
The office of MIT President Charles M. Vest issued a statement. "This move corrects a mistake that would have damaged basic science research in this nation. MIT is very grateful to Rep. Torkildsen for his dedicated work with the House Science Committee to restore the funding, and to continue the unique and important nuclear physics research which this national laboratory conducts on a very cost-effective basis, " said spokesperson Kenneth D. Campbell.
The House Science Committee voted $316.9 million of the $321 million for nuclear physics research requested by President Clinton for FY 96. The FY 95 budget was $331 million. The House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on June 8 had voted only $290 million and had specified closing down the accelerators at MIT, Yale, Duke/University of North Carolina, University of Washington, and Texas A&M. Meanwhile, the House Appropriations Committee today announced it was recommending $304.5 million -- a cut of $16.5 million or five percent--and that the Department of Energy (DOE) should determine where to make the cuts.
The Bates accelerator is a national facility, operated by MIT for the Department of Energy. The DOE/National Science Foundation Nuclear Science Advisory Committee said in a May, 1994 report, "The Bates Linear Accelerator Center at MIT ... has set the standard for high resolution" measurements of particle energy.
Stanley Kowalski, professor of physics and director of the Bates facility, said "The Bates Accelerator is an important national and international research tool for the study of nuclei and nucleons (protons and neutrons) using the electron probes. The facility has recently had its capability upgraded through the addition of a stretcher/storage ring at the end of the linear accelerator (LINAC). This will allow unique experiments in this important research area which seeks to understand the details of nuclear structure and nuclear interactions."
Professor Kowalski noted that the nation has made significant investments in the new 600-foot ring and several new experimental detectors. Two of the detectors are 32 feet high and weigh about 250 tons apiece. Part of the Bates complement of detectors is the world's highest resolution magnetic spectrometer for measuring particle energy. The accelerator has also been used for calibration for other research tools, such as a high energy gamma ray detector which is now operating on the gamma ray observatory satellite.