Earlier this month, European scientists at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) announced the discovery of the Higgs boson. Undoubtedly this is a monumental scientific achievement that caps a half-century run of discoveries around the "Standard Model" of particle physics. There are sure to be a few Nobel Prizes awarded for this discovery in the upcoming years.While we should celebrate this discovery, it is disappointing to recall that Americans could have beaten the Europeans to this discovery by a decade -- and done so right here in our back yard -- if we had built the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC).The Higgs boson had long been the "holy grail" of modern physics. Since the end of World War II, increasingly powerful colliders were being built in the United States and in Europe that had found many of the fundamental particles that make up the matter in the universe. However, by the early 1980s physicists in the U.S. came to the conclusion that to find the Higgs -- the particle that gave all other particles their mass -- we needed a collider 10 times more powerful than existing ones. Hence the idea for the SSC was born.Everyone knew that the SSC would be costly -- after all, you need a big budget to recreate the Big Bang. Nevertheless, the project enjoyed years of bipartisan support in Congress. Waxahachie was chosen as the site, due in no small part to powerful lobbying by the entire Texas delegation in the 1980s.There is no doubt that the economic benefits to the region would have been massive and would have justified the $10 billion price tag for the facility. First, it would have been the largest particle collider in the world by far. To operate such a facility would have required a massive amount of engineering and technical knowledge, attracting highly skilled workers to the region. Of course, the SSC would have also brought many veteran and budding particle physicists to the area. But its impact would have gone far beyond just jobs for physicists. Running the SSC meant building warship-size detectors, operating miles of sophisticated superconducting magnets, and supercomputers capable of interpreting terabytes of data from the experiments. This would have required expertise in electrical, mechanical and chemical engineering as well as computer science. Local universities would have seen a boom in students enrolling to study these fields, not to mention the world-class scientists that would have joined the faculty. This fact is well-known to any community in the vicinity of a large scientific establishment -- the benefits to the local economy are immense and last for generations. The SSC would have been no different.Unfortunately Congress killed the SSC in 1993. The project had become burdened by cost overruns, delays and accusations of mismanagement. Even extensive lobbying by local leaders and heavyweights such as Nobel Laureate Steve Weinberg at the University of Texas at Austin could not save it. It simply became too difficult to justify spending billions to find an elusive particle, especially in the post-Cold War era.Alas, Central Texas could have laid claim to one of the greatest discoveries in the history of science. We can now confirm that the SSC was indeed designed with more than enough power to find the Higgs. As science marches forward to discoveries beyond the Higgs, it should be remembered that the SSC and this region would have undoubtedly played a critical role well into this century.Gaurav Khanna, an engineering manager at Cisco Systems in San Jose, Calif., was a White House intern during 1995, working in the Science Policy Office. He has a B.A. in physics from Yale and a Ph.D. in materials science from Stanford.