Fermilab Today Friday, October 5, 2007

To the Editor:

Sacha Kopp

I write in response to the recent Director’s Corner by Barry Barish, “Fermilab and Project X,” reprinted in the September 20 edition of Fermilab Today. I would like to thank Barish for his words of support for Project X, and particularly for his recognition of Fermilab’s need to plan for a future that balances commitment to building the ILC and the responsibility for a strong U.S. accelerator-based physics program in the interval between the end of Tevatron operations and the start of the ILC.

Like Barish, many of us in the U.S. particle physics user community have noted with appreciation the efforts of Director Pier Oddone and the Steering Group to plan for Fermilab’s future. Students in particular observe that there is a need for science to “come home to” after their time at the LHC. Many faculty would redirect their research efforts toward a strong Fermilab program. Physics is Fermilab’s most precious asset, as attested by last year’s impressive 115 PhD theses awarded using data from Fermilab experiments.

I also strongly second Barish’s emphasis on the science of Project X. He rightly observes that it deserves vigorous study by the community, as well as careful consideration by advisory panels such as P5 and HEPAP. The workshops planned at Fermilab on November 16—17 and in January will be a good next step in the direction of defining a compelling science case for the science of Project X—one that we can communicate at all levels.

I share Barish’s optimism that these two projects, Project X and the ILC, are likely to be compatible in their technological progress, and his faith in the ability of close collaboration and good will between the GDE and Fermilab to accomplish a balance between the needs of Project X and the ILC. On the technical side, the need for expertise in superconducting RF technology for Project X can spur development of interlaboratory collaboration, and collaboration with the universities. Such collaboration is very much in the spirit of the ILC.

What’s in a name? Barish asks. For more than 40 years, Fermilab’s name has meant leadership in accelerator-based particle physics. With the energy and support of the particle physics community, the steering group’s proposed plan for the future can keep Fermilab’s name among the world leaders in our field. I urge the community to pursue the physics case with vigor and all deliberate speed.


--Sacha Kopp

Sacha Kopp is an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, a collaborator on the Fermilab MINOS experiment and the past chair of the Fermilab UEC.

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