One of humanity’s strangest rituals is the destruction of science equipment. The day before an experiment ends the equipment, in the field of particle physics, huge equipment, is treated with religious devotion. Priestesses and Priests keep watch day and night to record every utterance. The wisdom is then set down in holy books to last for eternity. The day after the experiments ends, the equipment is essentially junk, is set upon, and torn to pieces. I have seen this happen several times, notably the LEP detectors at CERN, where crane hooks ripped electronics from idolized detectors days after the end of the program.
BaBar at SLAC was a fantastic experiment, indeed still is, as analysis continues. It did wonderful science. The foundation for the 2008 Physics Nobel Prize was the data from BaBar and another great experiment in Japan, BELLE http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2008/info.pdf
“Kobayashi and Maskawa’s theory also indicated that it should be possible to study a major violation of symmetry in B-meson particles, which are ten times heavier than their cousins, the kaons. However, broken symmetry occurs extremely rarely in B-mesons, so immense quantities of these particles are needed to find just a few that break the symmetry. Two gigantic constructions housing the BaBar particle detectors at the SLAC accelerator at Stanford, California and Belle at the KEK accelerator at Tsukuba in Japan produced more than one million B-mesons a day in order to follow their decay in detail. As early as 2001, both independent experiments confirmed the symmetry violation of the B-mesons, exactly as Kobayashi and Maskawa’s model had predicted almost 30 years earlier.”
The people in BaBar were the best- friendly, helpful, incredibly efficient.
I go to pay homage during my visit to SLAC. The beautiful detector is being dismantled, very carefully and respectfully. Poignant moment.