WASHINGTON—President Reagan's decision to support the construction of a Superconducting Supercollider (SSC) may be the most significant step in its long history. But the January 30 announcement is far from the last word on the subject.

A host of unresolved issues remain, from its high price and its uncertain return to its impact on the scientific community in the United States and around the world. Politics is sure to play a major role in choosing the site, including the value of support from a lame-duck administration for a project that will not be completed until 1996 at the earliest.

A major issue is the project's cost, estimated at $4.4 billion in current dollars by Energy Secretary John Herrington. Many scientists worry that it will siphon off money from smaller research projects, not just in high-energy physics but in other disciplines as well. Others see the president's endorsement, along with his...

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