Fermilab TodayMonday, May 15, 2006  
Shank, Dawson: Report Has Best Strategy for US HEP
Shank and Dawson
EPP2010 members Chuck Shank and Sally Dawson told the All-Hands meeting on Friday: "If we don't take risks, we won't get over the hill where we need to be." (Click on image for larger version.)

Throughout the field and across the country, Chuck Shank and Sally Dawson are delivering the message they presented at Friday's All-Hands meeting in Ramsey Auditorium: the report of the National Academies' EPP2010 panel, on which they served, outlines "a strategy that has the best chance to put the US at the forefront of the field with a program of distinction and importance."

That strategy involves these steps, or "ordered priorities:" 1-exploiting the LHC; 2-actively participating in the Global Design Effort for R&D of the proposed International Linear Collider; 3-mounting an "internationally compelling bid" to host the ILC in the US; 4-exploiting opportunities at the intersections of particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology; 5-coordinating an international program in neutrinos and proton decays; 6-conducting precision probes of physics beyond the Standard Model.

They reported good news from the front lines, crediting the diverse composition of the panel for the positive receptions they've encountered. Shank, former director of Berkeley Lab, expressed his surprise that the Office of Management and Budget told him: "When you have specific numbers on the ILC, come back and see us again." Dawson, head of the physics department at Brookhaven Lab and Vice Chair of the panel, described as "an eye-opener" her interactions with policy makers: "Because this panel was NOT just particle physicists talking about particle physics, they saw the science as very exciting, and they were very positive."

Throughout their talk, titled "Revealing the Hidden Nature of Space and Time: Final Report of the Committee on Elementary Particle Physics in (the first decades of) the 21st Century," Dawson and Shank emphasized the need to make every national decision in a global context. During its investigations, the EPP2010 committee held meetings not only at Fermilab and SLAC, but at KEK and JPARC in Japan, and at DESY and CERN in Europe.

The majority of the committee's members were drawn from outside particle physics, including luminaries such as Harold Shapiro, an economist and former president of Princeton University; Harold Varmus, Nobel laureate in the biosciences; Norman Augustine of Lockheed Martin Corp., and Neal Lane of Rice University, former science advisor to President Bill Clinton. At Berkeley, Shank holds professorships in chemistry, physics, and electrical engineering and computer science. Committee member Joseph Hezir is a consultant in Washington, DC, who worked for 15 years in OMB. Dawson credited Hezir with forcing committee members to think in a budgetary context.

The report charges Congress with securing at least $500 million over the next five years to substantively participate in the global effort to design and engineer the ILC. Shank says the recommendations held specific and important consequences for Fermilab. "As it will soon be the only US lab focusing on particle physics, Fermilab will have a key role as the keeper of the torch for this field," he said. "Fermilab should lead this field into the future."

Shank expressed his surprise at the current state of US particle physics, with US experiments nearing the end of their scientific value, no clear strategy for the future, and the field at risk. He described particle physics as a field at the crossroads, facing tremendous opportunities, but with an intellectual center drifting toward Europe and Asia. Without clear and decisive action in the next few years, he said, the US position would deteriorate. He described the ILC-focused strategy as a risk, but "if we don't take risks, we won't get over the hill where we need to be."

Shank expressed clearly the need for decisive action, in exploiting LHC physics and making the case for the ILC. "Choosing not to pursue the direct exploitation of the terascale," he said, "is equal to folding our hands and walking away from leadership in particle physics."
--Mike Perricone

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