In the early 1990s, the United States was set to build a particle accelerator even larger and more awesome than the Large Hadron Collider in Europe. Naturally, Texas was chosen as the location for such a super-sized project. The first structures had been built, and digging had begun on the tunnels that would house the accelerator itself, when, in 1993, the funding situation got awkward. Forced to choose between building the International Space Station or building the biggest, baddest particle accelerator in the world, America picked the ISS.
How big was this particle accelerator? Big enough that the cancellation of the project apparently sent the southern part of Dallas/Fort Worth into a mini-recession.
Since 1993, the facility has sat abandoned. The buildings were emptied of most of the expensive equipment. The access shafts that led to the tunnels were filled in. This month, during the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, several young physicists snuck away to explore what's left of the Superconducting Super Collider. At the Physics Central blog you can see lots of great photos from their adventure, as well as "before" shots of what the facility looked like before the funding vanished. Cool stuff!
Submitterated by Eric Z Goodnight
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.