The following is a copy of National Science Foundation
Press Release 05-138
August 11, 2005
The National Science Foundation today terminated a planned
physics project called Rare Symmetry Violating Processes (RSVP)
originally slated to begin construction this year at Brookhaven
National Laboratory on Long Island.
At the recommendation of NSF management, the National Science
Board, NSF's policymaking body, voted to cancel the RSVP project
while it was still in the design stage, due to large increases
in both construction and operating costs. The project had been
budgeted at about $145 million for construction between Fiscal
Year (FY) 2005 and 2010.
The project's two experiments - intended to investigate the
relationship between the electron and its heavier cousin the
muon, and to examine differences in the behavior of matter and
antimatter - were to be conducted through added incremental use
of an existing Brookhaven particle accelerator called the
Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS), which currently serves
as the source for a project called the Relativistic Heavy Ion
Collider. In recent months, the future budget and operating
schedule of the RHIC facility have become uncertain. Since the
plan for RSVP was to use the AGS in an incremental mode,
uncertainty in the future of the RHIC project translates into
increased risk and potential increased costs for RSVP. There
were also cost increases in other elements of the project.
"Although the discovery potential of RSVP remains high," said
Michael Turner, NSF Assistant Director for Mathematics and
Physical Sciences, "continuing the RSVP project in the present
budgetary environment would lead to an unacceptable loss of
research opportunities in elementary particle physics and other
areas of science. While this decision eliminates a significant
elementary particle physics project, NSF reaffirms its strong
commitment to work with our partners in the funding of
elementary particle physics to ensure that the United States can
continue to operate at the frontiers of this field, in which the
discovery opportunities are so rich."
NSF initially approved RSVP for inclusion in the agency's
budget request in October 2000, and RSVP appeared in the
President's FY 2005 budget as a new construction project. In the
fall of 2004, a pre-baseline analysis revealed additional costs
that could double the cost of construction and more than double
the cost of operations.
NSF initiated a process to reach a decision about how to deal
with that situation. This process included obtaining advice from
the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel on the current scientific
value of RSVP, and conducting a rigorous baseline review of the
project by external experts. At the end of the evaluation, NSF
management recommended termination.
In announcing its decision, the NSB noted the loss of the
science opportunity. Brookhaven's Alternate Gradient Synchrotron
is the highest-intensity high-energy proton source in the world.
The intensity of the proton beam delivered by the AGS would have
enabled NSF-funded university researchers to search for very
rare events that could reveal the effects of new elementary
particles and forces far above the energy reach of any current
or future terrestrial particle accelerator.
Following today's action by the National Science Board, NSF
will work with RSVP on an orderly phase-out of activities over
the next few months.
January 24, 2006
by Gary Schroeder.