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From symmetry

Proposed plan for the future of U.S. particle physics

The Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel's report, released Thursday, recommends a strategic path forward for U.S. particle physics. Image: Sandbox Studio

Particle physics will become even more of an international endeavor in the coming decades, according to a panel charged with developing a strategic plan for the future of U.S. particle physics, whose long-awaited recommendations were released [Thursday].

According to the panel, top priorities for U.S. particle physics include continuing to play a major role at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe; building a world-leading neutrino program hosted in the United States; and participating in the development of a proposed future linear collider, if it is built in Japan.

"The United States and major players in other regions can together address the full breadth of the field's most urgent scientific questions if each hosts a unique world-class facility at home and partners in high-priority facilities hosted elsewhere," the panel members wrote in their executive summary.

The 25-member Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) was charged in September 2013 with developing a draft strategic plan for U.S. particle physics for the next decade and beyond. P5 reports to the federal High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP), a 24-member body that formally advises both the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Science Foundation on support of particle physics.

HEPAP is expected to consider and vote on the panel's recommendations during a two-day public meeting being held in Bethesda, Maryland, [Thursday] and Friday.

The P5 report culminates a more-than-year-long process that began with meetings of members of the U.S. particle physics community in late July and early August of last year and ended with P5 working by consensus to create a unified strategy.

"The community was deeply engaged, and we're very grateful for that," says physicist Steven Ritz of the University of California, Santa Cruz, who led the P5 panel.

The plan recommends a U.S. particle physics program that will pursue research related to the Higgs boson, neutrinos, dark matter, dark energy and inflation, and as-yet undiscovered particles, interactions and physical principles.

To keep the United States at the forefront of particle physics, the plan advocates for investing a larger portion of the DOE high-energy physics budget in the construction of new experimental facilities, raising the level from 16 to 20 to 25 percent.

"This is a discovery-driven field," Ritz says. "In order to discover, you have to build."

Read more

Kathryn Jepsen

In the News

Report champions $1 billion effort to make U.S. a neutrino science hub

From Chicago Tribune, May 22, 2014

The United States should devote about $1 billion to build a neutrino experiment that would make the country a major center for particle physics on the world stage, according to a panel of experts – a plan that would involve building a high-power accelerator that would attract international support and cooperation.

The findings released by the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel, or P5 for short, outline a 10-year plan for a two-decade vision that would see an ambitious experiment built at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Illinois. The report could profoundly influence how federal dollars are spent in the coming decade.

"We want the U.S. to become the leaders in neutrino science," said Joe Lykken, a particle theorist at Fermilab and a member of the P5 group. "We'd like to use that to bring the world here in the same way that the world went to CERN [European Organization for Nuclear Research] to discover the Higgs boson."

Read more

In the News

Neutrinos top list of targets for U.S. particle physics

From New Scientist, May 22, 2014

Neutrino physics in the US should receive a budget boost, according to recommendations by the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) — but dark matter detectors may be delayed.

P5, an international group of distinguished experts, has issued its long-awaited report mapping the next 10 to 20 years of US particle physics research. The US Department of Energy's High Energy Physics Advisory Panel will now deliberate on its conclusions on future strategies in five key research areas: the Higgs boson, neutrinos, dark matter, dark energy and yet-to-be-discovered particles.

Read more

Director's Corner

A new plan for U.S. particle physics

Fermilab Director
Nigel Lockyer

The planning process for the future of U.S. particle physics reached an important milestone yesterday with the presentation of the report of the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel. The P5 report lays out a 10-year prioritized strategy for U.S. particle physics that keeps our country — and our laboratory — at the forefront of research and discovery.

Approved yesterday by the members of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, the P5 report provides advice from our community to the Department of Energy and to the National Science Foundation for the agencies to consider when allocating funding for our field.

The P5 plan supports continued strong U.S. participation in the Large Hadron Collider, a world-leading neutrino program hosted at Fermilab using an upgraded accelerator complex, and major advances in the quest to understand dark matter and dark energy. The panel recommends completion of the Mu2e and Muon g-2 experiments at Fermilab, as well as U.S. participation in the International Linear Collider should Japan proceed to host the future facility.

The recommendations recognize that the United States is in a strong position to become the international center of accelerator-based neutrino research and that Fermilab has the know-how and infrastructure to power a world-leading neutrino program. If the U.S. funding agencies implement the plan, the lab's expertise should also play a big role in enabling the next phase of LHC accelerator and detector upgrades, in the next generation of cosmic frontier experiments and in possible contributions to future colliders.

This report demonstrates that we are entering a new era of global planning for major particle physics projects. We have long worked in close partnership with our international colleagues. But we will need to take our cooperation and coordination to a whole new level as we look to build future discovery machines. The common long-term scientific vision expressed by the P5 report and last year's European Strategy update are evidence that we are already well along this path.

Fermilab has a major role to play in achieving the ambitious goals outlined in the P5 report. It will take time and effort to realign our lab's priorities to match those recommended by P5. This will include reformulating the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment into an internationally designed, coordinated and funded program that the panel dubbed the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility. It will mean ambitious changes to our scientific and campus infrastructure, an altered focus for our accelerator R&D programs and changes in our organization so that we can best support the community's highest-priority activities.

The potential of particle physics for major discoveries about the fundamental nature of the universe has never been greater. I look forward to working with the lab's employees, its thousands of users and our many international colleagues over the coming years to make this plan a reality.

Editor's note: An all-hands meeting on the P5 report will take place on Wednesday, May 28, at 9:30 a.m. in Ramsey Auditorium. The meeting will be streamed live.

Photo of the Day

Memorial Day

Julie Kurnat, TD, created this chalk drawing for Memorial Day. Photo: Julie Kurnat, TD

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