Monday, May 20

Particle physicists offer a road map for the next decade

“The United States will have to relinquish leadership in some areas of particle physics,” said Karsten Heeger, a physicist at Yale University and vice president of the P5. “It would be an impact that would be felt on the field, and beyond.”

Failing that, the draft report urges the federal government to stay the course on projects it’s already engaged in, including increasing the brightness, or collision rates, of the Large Hadron Collider for deeper studies of the Higgs and other rare phenomena. ; continued construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, a telescope in Chile designed to create time-lapse movies of the cosmos; and a limited release of DUNE.

Because the lifespan of these projects spans decades, the committee emphasized support for early-career scientists who will eventually take on the projects. “They are the future,” Dr. Murayama said.

The Department of Energy’s High Energy Physics Advisory Committee will vote on the draft report Friday afternoon. If the report is accepted, the committee will focus its attention on gaining support for the plan, both within and outside the physics community. In particular, Dr. Murayama hopes this will get the attention of staff members who communicate with members of Congress about how to vote on the department’s budget.

“Basic research is a difficult thing,” Dr. Murayama said. “It’s not an immediate benefit to society.” But it’s worth it, he added: Particle physics has led to revolutions in medical applications, materials science and even the creation of iPhones and the World Wide Web.

But according to Dr. Murayama, the benefits transcend the impact the field has on society. “Particle physics is really at the core of who we are, who we are,” he said, adding that all of us, physicists or not, “would like to understand why we exist, where we came from and where we are going.” .”