Yesterday we celebrated Labor Day and the end of summer. Celebrating labor is easy – we have done a prodigious amount of it in the last few months, and we see nothing but a huge amount ahead of us.
It has been a good but arduous summer, with a series of Tevatron problems associated with storms and with a number of difficulties with the NuMI neutrino targets. The Tevatron is back up to snuff with more than 60 inverse picobarns for the last week, and we are running the neutrino beams very effectively with one of the previously used targets. The Tevatron is approaching 2.5 inverse femtobarns for the year, while the NuMI beam has delivered more than 2×1020 protons on target and the Booster neutrino beam delivered more than 3×1020 protons on target. One important accomplishment during the last few months, among many others, was to give enough data to the MINOS collaboration to settle the previously observed differences between neutrino and antineutrino oscillations. The additional data fluctuated in the opposite direction to that previously measured by the collaboration and tells us that, within statistical accuracy, neutrino and antineutrino long-baseline oscillations behave the same.
The collider collaborations have also been working night and day. For the Tevatron, the urgency is to get results out as quickly as possible, since in many areas the Tevatron is being surpassed by the LHC. The LHC collaborations have been working around the clock and around the world to analyze the rapidly increasing data sets. The performance of the detectors and the ability to perform rapid analysis of LHC data is most impressive. The Higgs has been cornered to below 145 GeV and a host of models for new physics have been ruled out as the data so far is spot-on in agreement with the Standard Model. For many physicists the biggest surprise so far is that discovering new physics at the LHC will not be as easy as rolling off a log, as many had originally predicted. We are fortunate that the data sample will eventually be a factor of a thousand greater than what is collected so far and so there is ample room for new discoveries and surprises.
Of course there are many other accomplishments in our physics programs. All of these physics accomplishments, which are our ultimate product, would not be possible without the great dedication and prodigious labor of our colleagues in the many facets of laboratory operations that sustain our productivity. We do not sing the praises of this work often enough because we tend to focus on our goal of physics results. Labor Day was a good day to celebrate the devotion and generosity of everyone who labors at Fermilab to make our “mission impossible” possible.