!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN"> FermiNews - June 29, 2001
Fermi National Laboratory

Volume 24  |  Friday, June 29, 2001  |  Number 11
In This Issue  |  FermiNews Main Page

HEPAP Subpanel Comes to Fermilab

by Judy Jackson

It was a busy week at Fermilab. High-energy protons collided with antiprotons as Run II at the Tevatron at last began to gain steam. Fermilab physicists gathered on June 11 and 12 for their annual Users' Meeting at the laboratory. Graduate students vied for the Best Poster award in a traditional annual contest. The Italians threw a party in the Village Barn, with cannoli for all. And there in the midst of it was the future of particle physics in the United States--or at least the panel of physicists charged with defining it.

Subpanel co-chairs Jonathan Bagger and Barry Barish The DOE/NSF High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel Subpanel on Long-Range Planning for U.S. High-Energy Physics, chaired by physicists Jonathan Bagger and Barry Barish, likes to meet where the action is.

"We really want to hear what people have to say," Barish told an interviewer after the meeting. "Hearing from people is number one for us. It's why we came to Fermilab during the Users' Meeting."

Barish and his subpanel colleagues definitely got an earful. During a day and a half of public presentations in Fermilab's Ramsey Auditorium, the 24-member panel heard from present and former lab directors, Fermilab staff and users, graduate students and Nobel prizewinners. All shared their views, sometimes passionately, on the central question that preoccupies experimentalists, theorists and students alike: What will be the future of particle physics in the United States?

The subpanel, formed in response to a January 2001 request to High Energy Physics Advisory Panel Chair Fred Gilman, is charged with producing a long-range plan for the field.

"We are charging the subpanel to undertake a long-range planning exercise that will produce a national roadmap for HEP for the next twenty years," says the letter to Gilman from then-Office of Science Director Mildred Dresselhaus of the Department of Energy and Assistant Director for Mathematics and Science Robert Eisenstein of the National Science Foundation. "The subpanel should describe the discovery potential and intellectual impact of the program and recommend the next steps to be taken as part of an overall strategy to maintain the United States in a leadership role in HEP."

Fermilab was the third stop in the Subpanel's tour of particle physics laboratories, following meetings at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

"This is our third lab visit," Bagger said. "The full range of possibilities has been presented. We are starting to get a complete picture. The pieces are coming into focus. We wanted to be well educated when we went to Snowmass, and at the point where the panel was really working together. This visit to Fermilab has really helped with both of those goals."

The Subpanel's next meetings will occur at Snowmass 2001, a conference on "The Future of Particle Physics," to be held June 30-July 21

in Snowmass, Colorado. More than a thousand scientists have registered to attend.

Barish agreed that the days at Fermilab were time well spent.

"We're making progress," he said. "The group dynamics are coming together. There are twenty-two subpanel members, plus the two of us, plus the DOE people. The group's arrows are beginning to point in the same directionónot in the sense that we've reached a conclusion. We haven't. But we're learning how to work together. The coherence and closeness has really been building over this visit to Fermilab."

The group is likely to need all the coherence that group dynamics can muster. The subpanel must address a number of difficult issues, including formulation of the central physics questions that define the field and the identification of technology required to address them. However, perhaps their most challenging assignment is to recommend a U.S. strategy for reclaiming the energy frontier. Currently, Fermilab's Tevatron occupies this piece of prime high-energy real estate, but Europe's Large Hadron Collider at CERN will take over the neighborhood beginning in about 2007.

"The leading discovery tool in HEP in the 20th century, and as far into the future as one can see," reads the charge, "is the energy frontier accelerator/storage ring. In the context of the worldwide scientific effort in particle physics, formulate a plan that optimizes the U.S. investment of public funds in sustaining a leadership role at the high energy frontier, including a recommendation on the next facility that will be an integral part of the U.S. program."

The question of what to build next is hardly a new one for U.S. high-energy physicists. Indeed, since the failure of the Superconducting Super Collider in 1993, the future of the field has been a subject of constant debate among its practitioners. Earlier subpanels, most recently one chaired by HEPAP's Gilman, have recommended "a new facility at the energy frontier" as "an integral part of the long-term national high-energy physics program." Previous recommendations, however, stopped short of designating a particular design. Now, most (although not all) physicists agree, it's time to make a choice.

"This," said one subpanelist, "is where the rubber meets the road."

Contenders in the "next machine" Grand Prix include designs for an electron-positron linear collider, a muon storage ring and a Very Large Hadron Collider. Technological challenges appear to make the muon machine a long shot for early construction, leaving the LC and the VLHC as possible nearer-term options. The subpanel heard presentations on both the electron and hadron machines.

While proponents differed on which machine the U.S. should build next, they nearly all agreed on what Fermilab Director Emeritus Leon Lederman called "Type I Truths." Lederman defined Type I Truths as "Absolute truths that must be factored into any long-range policy. They are or should be noncontroversial." (Type II truths are "the other kind.") On Lederman's Type I list are the need for an international policy in long-range planning for high-energy physics, the need for consensus in the world community of physics and the need for more funding for the field. Lederman also noted that any future machine would create a decade-long period of "interim physics of the small science category, so attractive to younger physicists" during construction of a new accelerator.

It's the Type II truths that are likely to give the subpanel its greatest challenge. They represent the differing views of those who favor an electron machine and those who favor a hadron collider, views that the panelists must grapple with as they produce their report.

"We haven't gotten to the hard questions yet," Bagger said. "There is a crossover point between the information gathering and coming to grips with the information. We have defined a process, we are following it, we assume we'll arrive. Snowmass is good timing for us. Our report is due in October. The panel has to start getting to grips with the questions. It is good to be able to do that at Snowmass when the community is there for three weeks."

Meanwhile, both chairmen and panel members emphasized their need to hear from their colleagues.

"A lot of people are worried that our decision is a done deal," said Columbia University physicist Janet Conrad, spokesperson of Fermilab's MiniBooNE experiment and a subpanel member. "They wonder why they should be involved in the process. I can tell them that we are truly looking at all the options. Input is important. They should not feel that it is a done deal."

Barish concurred.

"The most important message is that we are seeking input every way we can," he said. "This panel is not just window dressing. We want to hear what people have to say."


On the Web:
HEPAP Subpanel on Long-Range Planning for U.S. High-Energy Physics http://hepserve.fnal.gov:8080/doe-hep/lrp_panel/index.html


last modified 7/9/2001 by C. Hebert   email Fermilab