Physics Questions People Ask Fermilab
Results of Tevatron Run II
I know that the Tevatron is in full swing again with Collider Run II. When will the physicists start seeing results from the new run, and what can be expected?
You asked when we will start seeing results from the new Tevatron run, and what can be expected.
Major physics results tend to get presented at international conferences that take place in the spring and summer. There's a big conference in Amsterdam this summer at which the first measurements from this run (Run II: 2001 to 2008) will be shown --- but these aren't going to change anyone's view of the world, they are really more like checks that we are seeing what we expect to see with the newly upgraded detectors and accelerator.
Physicists have a pretty good understanding of the most common processes that occur when you collide protons and antiprotons at high energies in the Tevatron. What we are looking for are things that happen very rarely, or very subtle deviations from expectations. Both of these require that we record a very large amount of data from collisions and then search through it thoroughly. Right now we are accumulating data and the accelerator operators are pushing to increase the collision rate to the design capabilities of the machine.
By Spring or Summer next year (2003) we will have enough data to show some really new results. We will be able to make much more precise measurements of the properties of the top quark. When it was discovered here in 1995, it was on the basis of observing the traces of a few tens of top quarks in our detectors. By next summer we should have recorded four or five times as many top quarks as were ever seen before and so we'll be able to understand it much better. (For example, is it a quark just like the others? and if so, why is it so much heavier than them?) We're also planning to look for signatures of new particles such as those predicted in supersymmetry theories, make some sensitive tests of the standard model particles that contain a b-quark, and we are even going to try to measure the number of dimensions of space and time.
Each year between now and roughly 2008, we will continue to accumulate data and we'll be able to search for rarer and rarer processes and make more and more precise measurements. So you can expect new results from the Tevatron every year, and there's a very good chance that these results will not just be new measurements but a discovery of something completely new.
Cospokesman, DZero Experiment
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