It is impossible to write a column this week on anything other than the grave tragedy that has occurred in Japan. Our hearts and prayers go to all our friends and colleagues in Japan in these difficult hours. Our high-energy physics community is tightly knit. Over the years we’ve made many friends in the Japanese physics community as we have worked together on very challenging projects. Last year we celebrated a remarkable 30 years of collaboration across a broad front of activities under the US-Japan Agreement on High Energy Physics.
What started decades ago with the participation of Japanese institutions in experiments at US accelerators has evolved into a much richer collaboration program using facilities in the US, Japan and the Large Hadron Collider. Japan has two major accelerator facilities for high-energy physics that have attracted many US and international institutions. The B factory in KEK has been enormously successful and is now being upgraded into a super-B factory with much increased luminosity. The J-PARC facility has started its program to study neutrinos and rare decays with significant US participation, especially in T2K, a very large international collaboration using a high-intensity neutrino beam from the J-PARC facility to the 50-kiloton Super Kamiokande detector. These facilities are likely to suffer some delays but we very much hope they will recover quickly. They are a major component of the world’s high-energy physics program.
Communication with our Japanese colleagues, which was nearly impossible right after the earthquake, has improved significantly over the last couple of days. It does appear that the staff members at both J-PARC and KEK are safe, that J-PARC did not suffer damage from the tsunami and that the damage from the earthquake both at KEK and J-PARC will take some time to be assessed. You can check the status of KEK here. In the meantime we will find ways in which we can be of assistance to our colleagues in the recovery process.