Fermi National Laboratory

Volume 22  |  Friday, July 2, 1999  |  Number 13
In This Issue  |  FermiNews Main Page

Constructing A Legacy

Peoples equally adept at handlingbig projects and tricky politics.

by Mike Perricone

Fermilab’s successes in exploring new particle physics in the 21st century will depend heavily on the new Main Injector, the new and unique Antiproton Recycler, and the extensively upgraded Antiproton Source—three machines whose origins can be traced directly to John Peoples.

The 10 years of Peoples’ directorship (1989-1999) span the entire Main Injector project, including the Recycler, from concept to commissioning. His role went well beyond simple oversight.

"I would summarize John’s role as being tireless and relentless," said Beams Division Head Steve Holmes, the Main Injector project manager from its outset. "John was so dogged on this thing, he made sure it was going to go through one way or another."

Before becoming Fermilab’s third director, Peoples had served as project manager for construction of the Antiproton Source from 1981 to 1985. He altered the concept of the Accumulator and Debuncher rings to conform with the Lab’s high-energy level of operation, and guided the machines’ completion through technical challenges and managerial nightmares.

"The Antiproton Source can accurately be described as a technological tour de force," said Gerry Dugan, part of the Antiproton Source design team, who later served as head of both the Antiproton Source and the Accelerator (now Beams) Division. "The one responsible for the leadership, the direction and the inspiration of all of it was John Peoples."

A change in design

Dugan, now a professor of physics at Cornell University, recalled that the original design of the Antiproton Source relied exclusively on electron cooling, which is effective at low energies but not at the high energies most useful for providing beam to the Tevatron collider.

Peoples directed the daunting process of revising the Antiproton Source design, from electron cooling to the technically complex stochastic cooling system. Invented at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, stochastic cooling uses microwave signals that must travel a straight line across the ring faster than the near-light-speed beam travels around the ring. Stochastic cooling shifts the positions and energies of particles within the beam, and reduces the size of the beam and its momentum spread.

"Technically, these are the most difficult systems in the Antiproton Source," Dugan said.

Building the Antiproton Source involved digging new tunnels for beam transfer to and from the Tevatron enclosure, as well as several service buildings on the surface. Dugan pointed out that the Booster Tower as well as the BZero and DZero collision halls, and many roads around the site, were also completed as part of the project, formally called "Tevatron I" by the Department of Energy.

The target hall for antiproton production had to be completed after the contractor went broke. Dugan recalled that another contractor’s business failed during fabrication of the more than 1400 power supplies, and Peoples arranged to send technicians out to California for as much as six months to complete the construction.

Peoples also coordinated the process of prebaking the vacuum chambers for the dipole magnets at 800 degrees C, to squeeze hydrogen impurities out of the stainless steel. The only facility large enough to handle the huge chambers was in Wisconsin, meaning they had to be shipped there for baking, then brought back to Fermilab and installed in the tunnel.

Installation (by day) and commissioning (nights and weekends) ran through 1984 and 1985. The very small initial numbers of antiprotons had to be accelerated in the Main Ring, transferred to the Tevatron, and accelerated again there.

"Finally, in October of 1985, we produced proton-antiproton collisions," Dugan said. "There weren’t many, but there were enough to show that we had accomplished it."

A change in strategy

In 1989, Holmes, Peoples and the Main Injector began an association that lasted a decade. Holmes worked with a team on a design report for the Main Injector, aiming for a 50-fold Tevatron luminosity increase in conjunction with a Linear Accelerator upgrade. Peoples was the new director, Dugan was head of the Accelerator Division, the Tevatron collider program was up and running, and Texas had been chosen as the site for the ill-fated Superconducting Super Collider.

The SSC project made a new machine for Fermilab a tough sell. Despite a successful DOE review in 1990, and two favorable recommendations by High Energy Physics Advisory Panel subpanels (first the Sciulli Panel, then the Witherell Panel), a funding request for FY1991 was turned down by Congress.

"In the early days," Holmes recalled, "when this project was trying to come to life, John played a very critical role, working hard to enlist political support to get this thing going. The Illinois congressional delegation was engaged, as was the Governor’s office and a group called the Illinois Coalition, a local business advocacy group. John got them all in the loop to try to press the case forward."

DOE cut off funding in 1992, even though the appropriations had been signed into law. Peoples again coordinated an effort by the Illinois Congressional delegation, and President Bush restored the funding for FY1993. But the project was fraught with restrictions—such as initially allowing the construction of a tunnel section only as long as the service building over it, a tight fit for a two-mile-long accelerator.

"The critical part of getting the project going was a $2.2 million challenge grant from the State of Illinois, secured through John’s leadership," Holmes said.

That grant enabled the Lab to prepare environmental assessments and engage the architectural engineering firm of Fluor Daniel to begin the design work. But Holmes asserted that the move finally securing the Main Injector’s future was Peoples’s idea to hold a groundbreaking ceremony.

"At some level, I think John was challenging people not to show up," Holmes recalled.

But show up they did, on March 22, 1993, with a morning snow yielding to climbing temperatures. Wielding the shovels were Peoples, Bill Hess of the Department of Energy, Illinois Senators Paul Simon and Carol Moseley-Braun, and Representative Dennis Hastert of the 14th Congressional District, another instrumental contributor to the Main Injector effort.

"Once we had broken ground, there was pretty much no going back," Holmes said. "Everybody was on board, DOE was enthusiastic, and the funding profile stabilized."

The SSC demise in the fall of 1993 secured Fermilab’s premier position for at least another decade, and Peoples exhorted the invigorated Lab to "keep the dream alive." Meanwhile, Gerry Jackson and Bill Foster were proposing an idea well out of the mainstream: an antiproton storage ring using permanent magnet technology, which could share the Main Injector tunnel at bargain-basement prices.

Holmes soon advised Peoples that the Main Injector project was underrunning the cost estimates, and both recognized the sense of incorporating the Antiproton Recycler, at a cost at about $12.5 million. Peoples’s strategy: call the new machine an "engineering change request."

"We had a DOE Lehman review in November 1996, and it was accepted," Holmes said. "It was probably the single biggest engineering change request ever submitted, but it was formally integrated into the project in April 1997. And 25 months later, we had circulating beam in the Antiproton Recycler."

Completing the legacy

"I think the Main Injector is really John’s legacy to the Laboratory," Holmes concluded. "He understood its importance to the future of Fermilab and to the U.S. high-energy physics program. He never lost sight of where we were trying to go, and he supported us through good times and bad."

Holmes then addressed the Director directly.

"Thank you, John, for your support," he said. "Those of us who continue at Fermilab expect to be able to demonstrate the wisdom of your commitments over the next decade."



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