UW physics lab’s last chance now gone - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UW physics lab's last chance now gone

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STOUGHTON (WKOW) -- A University of Wisconsin, Madison physics lab will close on April 5, after a decision from the Department of Energy came down in late January.

The UW-Madison was keeping the Synchrotron Radiation Center afloat until March while scientists awaiting a decision from the D.O.E. about renewing the Wisconsin Superconducting RF Gun, a $4 million laser gun project that would have spanned seven football fields if completed. The 2014 budget was in limbo after the government shutdown in October.

"We spent three years and over $4 million of federal money to build this device and carry out initial tests that were quite promising, but there wasn't even enough money to extend our run for an extra six months to show what this source can do," SRC director Joseph Bisognano said in a statement, calling it a "real waste and statement on the sorry state of federally supported research and development in the U.S."

Reps for the D.O.E. told 27 News that its Office of Science does not comment on funding decisions regarding particular grants of proposals.

A third-generation light source machine, the laser gun project was the SRC's last hope for staying open and keeping a small team of scientists on board. The lab's second-generation specialized x-ray machine, the Aladdin electron storage ring, was already slated to power down in early January because of prior funding cuts from the National Science Foundation.

Bisognano says that 30 scientists and engineers will lose their jobs and he's concerned about science in America.

"I'm afraid in the next decade or so the U.S. may well become a second-rate scientific power with an eroding technology base to support the economy," Bisognano said.

The Synchrotron Radiation Center is the first lab of its kind in the world. For the past half century, the SRC's research has included finding noninvasive brain cancer treatments, unraveling some of the mysteries of Alzheimer's, investigating algae as an alternative fuel source, understanding grapheme, which Bisognano calls a new "miracle material" for computer chips, among other items we may encounter in everyday life.

For more information on the Synchrotron Radiation Center's closing, click on the following stories : "UW keeps physics lab alive for three more months" and "Scientists to lose jobs in 2014."

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