Zamfir wrote:I never understood this. Why do Americans want to have their own collider?
Because whoever is in charge of the collider that makes the final discovery will try to take as much of the credit as they can possibly get away with. CERN is a massive international collaboration, particularly as the data processing is taking place at hundreds of universities around the world. But that doesn't matter to the politicians who fund these things, as they want to be able to claim "[insert country name here] science" rather than just "science".
CERN is an international program, and people from all participating countries work on it, including loads of Americans. Yet, for years and years the US physics community sends out messages that sound as if the US is in competition with the LHC, and that they will lose (in some unspecified sense) if they don't get more money for their own collider.
Is it just PR to get more funding by appealing to nationalism? Or are they serious about competition? If so, why?
They do lose in the sense that much of the money for these big projects will be spent locally. Yes, various components of CERN had to be ordered from Fermilab anyway, but just think of how many scientists work at CERN on a daily basis - they all need a home etc. A non-trivial amount of money is spent on these big projects and great deal of it locally. They are also serious about competition because they want to be the scientist who's name goes down forever as "the discoverer of the Higg's Boson". Science these days is all about collaboration, but that doesn't stop someone (or a small group) at the top claiming all the credit. There is rather a lot of ego involved in top-flight science.
Is there some institutional bias against Americans in CERN, so that they really want their own system? Or do they at least perceive CERN as biased? Or are some there genuine disadvantages to having the collider in Switzerland?
None that I can think of. You could perhaps argue that the supply chain for a couple of components is longer, or that it's harder to attract scientists who only speak English (I think when I looked at the CERN applications site that being fluent in French was a definite benefit), but both of those spin both ways.