The Tevatron had been at the frontier of high-energy particle physics for more than 28 years, but was recently surpassed by CERN's LHC, which offers a higher energy level for particle collisions and enables physicists to deliver results the Tevatron could never achieve. Science talent is now flocking to the LHC and the Tevatron had a tough time attracting the brightest minds of the scientific world.
The Tevatron was turned on on July 3, 1983, when it accelerated protons to 0.51 TeV (tera electron volts). Until the day of its shutdown, the Tevatron remained the world's highest-energy proton-antiproton collider with a combined collision energy level of 1.7 TeV (the LHC runs proton-proton collision experiments). Fermilab staff stresses that, while the Tevatron was Fermilab's main attraction, the lab will remain a leading research provider in other areas of high-energy and high-intensity physics, including neutrino research.
There are plans at Fermilab to reclaim the crown of the world's most capable particle accelerator. While there are different plans that would enable different kinds of experiments down the road, Fermilab scientists hope they can win funding for the long-planned International Linear Collider (ILC), which would be located partially on the 6800-acre Fermilab site in Batavia, Illinois, but stretch to a length of more than eight miles in length and run 300 feet below the ground (underneath neighboring towns). There is no clear idea how much the ILC could cost, but the latest numbers coming out of Fermilab put the price tag at more than $20 billion.