|Members of FALC, the informal group for communication among principal particle physics funding agencies worldwide, at a meeting in January.|
FALC has been a useful informal avenue for communication among the principal funding agencies that support particle physics in the world. Starting last year, the Director of KEK, Atsuto Suzuki, and I were added to this group in order to have one laboratory director from each of the three major regions, the Americas, Europe and Asia. Up to that point, FALC was limited only to participants from funding agencies, except in the case of the CERN director general who had been included in the original FALC not as a CERN representative but as representing the “small European countries.” I attended my second meeting of this group last week at SLAC.
The original name of this informal group was Funding Agencies for the Linear Collider, later changed to Funding Agencies for Large Colliders. The name may evolve further: at our meeting one of the participants suggested we change the name to Funding Agencies for Large Collaborations. Indeed, a great deal of the discussion revolves around how the agencies would come together to fund a very large global project such as a linear collider.
An important item of discussion was establishing what should follow the ILC Global Design Effort when the Technical Design Report for the ILC is finished in 2012. It is likely that the case for the ILC will take longer to be established, certainly if the case were in the affirmative. Presently the GDE is a creature of the International Committee for Future Accelerators through its sub-committee, the ILC Steering Committee. The proposal on the table is that something analogous to the GDE be created by the laboratories that are actively engaged in ILC R&D. This new group would report to the laboratories, not to the ILCSC. There are other suggestions on how to combine this ILC group with CLIC and muon colliders. Our position is to have well-defined teams that can develop the designs and keep control of the machine parameters separately for each of the three lepton collider projects. In the detector arena, however, it would be most useful to have tight coordination of the R&D and physics studies by the community so that comparative studies could be completed.
One of the most-useful parts of the meeting was to hear firsthand reports by the various funding agencies about the current situation and plans in the various regions. On listening to these reports, it is striking the great degree of uncertainty in the American program relative to other regions. This is not from the absence of plans, but from the peculiar uncertainties that afflict our program with year-to-year funding and sudden changes in direction by the funding agencies, such as the recent failure to provide interim funding to the NSF DUSEL project. It is also clear that the accelerator-based program at Fermilab with NOvA, MINVERvA, MicroBooNE, Mu2e, LBNE and ultimately Project X is of great interest to many countries and would bring strong international collaborations, in much simpler and well-tried forms than the models contemplated for very large colliders.