Science strategy

Fermilab Director Pier Oddone

We spent yesterday with the Office of Science leadership discussing strategy for particle physics and Fermilab. We also met with Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

In designing the laboratory strategy for the post-Tevatron era we try to meet the following criteria:

  • Address critical and exciting questions
  • Be bold and establish world leadership in at least one domain
  • Attract partners to leverage our investments through international collaboration
  • Fit within a global strategy for the field and within reasonable U.S. funding
  • Be resilient in the face of physics discoveries and funding fluctuations

In the next decade we have a vital program along the three frontiers of particle physics: Energy, Intensity and Cosmic. In the past we have led in all three frontiers, but with the increasing size of facilities and the global nature of our field, we need to define our domain of leadership. We have chosen the Intensity Frontier. At this frontier we have great opportunities to contribute to the world’s program with the study of neutrinos and rare transitions.

We have a first rate program at the Intensity Frontier in the next decade with the present accelerator complex; a world-class set of neutrino experiments: MINOS, MicroBooNE, NOvA and MINERvA; and two leading muon experiments: g-2 and Mu2e. For the long term we have proposed a strategy that includes the development of the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE) first and, in the longer term, a broad program with Project X. Project X, a high-intensity continuous wave superconducting linac, coupled to the rest of the Fermilab complex, greatly increases the flux of particles, which is the key to a long-term program at the Intensity Frontier. Fitting these grand ambitions in current budget projections is very difficult. Nevertheless, agreeing on a clear long-term strategy is important even if the time scale is stretched due to the current financial circumstances for the Office of Science.

Whether the LHC produces a host of new phenomena, or if it reveals only the beginnings of some new structure at energies beyond the LHC, we will want to connect the interpretation of those results to quark and lepton processes. In particular it is important to study those rare transitions where we expect large effects from any new physics discovered at the LHC or beyond the LHC.In addition, the most intense proton source will enable the best set of neutrino experiments both with short and long baselines. These neutrino experiments should greatly increase our understanding of this still mysterious sector.

To get there we need to manage the transition from 26 years of Tevatron collider operations to the world’s leading program at the Intensity Frontier. I think the value of our program and the issues associated with it are well understood and appreciated by Office of Science. Maintaining a clear strategy and a steady plan for our community is essential in achieving our long term goals.