FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions


ICAR, a not-for-profit organization, is a consortium of five Illinois institutions of higher learning formed in 1998 to help ensure that Fermilab continues to be a vital force in the forefront of international high-energy physics and an engine for scientific, economic and educational progress in Illinois. ICAR is a mission-driven and cost-effective collaborative, putting the intellectual resources of these universities together to accomplish its research and public awareness goals.


Illinois Institute of Technology, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


ICAR envisions Fermilab as a catalyst for innovation and growth in northeastern Illinois, an area with vast educational, research and commercial resources that, consolidated, could provide a bright economic future for the region. This scenario encompasses: Fermilab as an international focal point for scientific inquiry reaching out into the very frontiers of knowledge about matter, energy, space and time; the five Illinois universities, each with strong groups in accelerator and particle physics and engineering, working with Fermilab to form a unique talent pool of physicists and engineers and enhance the intellectual economy of the region; immense value being added to the scientific education of children and youth in Illinois; direct economic benefits from DOE funding and from the visiting scientists flowing into Fermilab; and major financial stimulus from spin-off industries associated with accelerator-based research and the exceptional constellation of scientific and technical expertise.


ICAR works to ensure that the best proposal for a new high-energy physics accelerator project will be developed for construction in Illinois, thereby maintaining Fermilab's preeminence in the search to unlock the secrets of the universe. Specifically: The five universities conduct research related to possible future particle accelerator projects. The universities are training a new generation of accelerator scientists, much in demand but low in supply. ICAR promotes understanding of the scientific and economic significance of Fermilab to Illinois by educating decision-makers and the general public. ICAR works with schools and teachers to increase enthusiasm for science and advance knowledge of accelerator-based research.


ICAR, a private, not-for-profit organization, was started with funding from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs and the Illinois Board of Higher Education. The individual university physics departments and researchers also bring in other funding (federal, state and private) for their specific research projects.


Fermilab is the largest lab in the U.S. for particle physics and currently has the world's highest-energy particle accelerator. That preeminence will fade in a just a few short years when a new machine in Switzerland -- CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) -- takes center stage. If Fermilab does not position itself to take the lead in whatever unfolds for the future in the post-LHC era, it could be marginalized. The loss to Illinois could be: much of the existing $300 million in direct federal subsidies; 2,200 jobs; the economic benefits of the 2,300 visiting scientists annually; in the longer term, a major income deficit to the area as the lab's scientists and engineers would have to move away from Kane and DuPage counties to seek employment. Fermilab's proud reputation and history and the Illinois university physics programs with which it collaborates would suffer a considerable disinvestment in the future of Illinois; the nation as a whole would lose its role as the current world leader in high-energy physics research.


Fermilab must be the obvious choice for the next big accelerator to follow the CERN accelerator. The discoveries in the 21st century have the potential to change our notions of space, time, energy and matter, and Fermilab and Illinois could be at the center of this explosion of knowledge. In addition, accelerator-based research, as a result of the attendant technological advances and discoveries, has had profound benefits in such fields as medical imaging, cancer treatment, new materials development and drug development and manufacture. The Kane and DuPage county area would be perfect for a research park complex where spin-off and ancillary industries could be incubated.

ICAR has joined with Fermilab to conduct much of the R&D necessary to position the lab as the obvious choice for the next era of accelerator research. By also strengthening the physics programs at the five member institutions, ICAR's activities hold great promise for the future of this field.

ICAR is motivated by the knowledge that Illinois can grow and flourish economically, educationally and intellectually with a vibrant Fermilab in the forefront of unlocking the secrets of the universe.