Endings and beginnings

Fermilab Director Pier Oddone

This week we bid farewell to the Tevatron Collider, an accelerator whose far-reaching legacy spans particle physics, accelerator science and industry. The shut down will take place starting at 2 p.m. on Friday, and I invite all Fermilab staff and users onsite and at their home institutions to watch a live broadcast of the shutdown activities from Ramsey auditorium or online.

It’s fitting that, in the same week that we shut down the Tevatron, our laboratory will host an important discussion on the future of underground physics in the United States. Tomorrow the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee will hold a roundtable discussion on the DOE deep underground science program. The roundtable, which will be moderated by Representatives Judy Biggert and Randy Hultgren, will take place at Fermilab and will become part of the Congressional record. It will bring members and staff of the Science Committee together with the leaders of the various efforts connected to the deep underground laboratory, the head of the DOE Office of Science and the chairs of the various review committees who have analyzed science and costs of the deep underground laboratory. You can watch the round-table discussion via video in the Auditorium starting at 10 am.

As we bid farewell to the Tevatron, Fermilab is poised to become the premier laboratory at the Intensity Frontier. One aspect of research at the Intensity Frontier is the study of the ever-mysterious neutrinos. A second aspect is the measurement of rare transitions that carry the imprint of the world beyond the reach of the LHC. At Fermilab, we will initially use our present complex of facilities to drive four world-class experiments in neutrinos and two in muon transformations.

While the immediate Intensity Frontier program at Fermilab is world class, it will not stay this way into the future without developing forefront facilities and inventing new technologies. The first of these facilities is the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment (LBNE), the most ambitious and profound experiment on the nature of neutrinos. The large LBNE detector will also study supernova neutrinos and proton decay, potentially unlocking some of the current mysteries in our understanding of particle physics. Beyond its own physics program, LBNE is critically important to the national program since it would be used as the vehicle to develop the deep underground laboratory in the Homestake site in South Dakota. Establishing the deep underground facility within the U.S. will enable a vital program of non-accelerator experiments searching for dark-matter particles directly or trying to understand whether neutrinos are their own antiparticles. Without a national deep underground facility we will be condemned to carry on multiple generations of these experiments offshore and lose the benefits of having the world’s vanguard deep-underground laboratory in South Dakota.

When it first starts up, LBNE can use the protons that will be produced from Fermilab’s accelerator complex after it has been upgraded for the NOvA neutrino experiment. To stay at the leading edge of particle physics, however, we need to upgrade the complex with an even higher-intensity source of protons to replace the current front–end machines, the Linac and Booster, that are the source of protons for the Main Injector. These front-end machines will be 50 years old in the early 2020s. The new source of protons, Project X, would multiply the flux of low-energy protons at Fermilab by a factor of 100 while at the same time tripling the power delivered to LBNE.