The International Committee on Future Accelerators (ICFA) organizes a seminar every three years. This year the seminar was at CERN with a focus on outlining future opportunities in our field. The seminar typically brings together some 150 leaders of our community from Europe, the Americas and Asia. The meeting includes both scientists and agency managers, who are usually absent from most other particle physics meetings. In conjunction with the ICFA seminar, I attended a meeting of ICFA (I am the chair elect) and a meeting of the Funding Agencies for Large Colliders (FALC) which has one laboratory director per region in addition to the several representatives from the funding agencies. ICFA also presented the booklet, “Beacons of Discovery,” outlining a global vision for particle physics.
Future opportunities at the energy frontier are focused on the LHC -upgrades and what will come after the LHC. At this point the Higgs particle is cornered in the range of 115-140 GeV, where we would expect it to be from the measurements of the top and W mass made at the Tevatron – if it exists at all. We have high hopes to settle this question very soon. At the moment, the best direct limits for the low-mass Higgs (115-120 GeV) come from the Tevatron. The LHC limits for a low-mass Higgs published this summer are a factor of three away from the predicted Standard Model rate. The LHC is working splendidly and combining the results of CMS and ATLAS at the end of this year’s run should, in principle, set an exclusion close to the Standard Model limit. With a bit more luminosity and improvements in resolution the LHC could discover the Standard Model Higgs decaying to two photons within the next year. Until the lay of the land is settled by further data from the LHC, all plans for future colliders are in suspended animation.
By contrast, the plans at the intensity frontier are quite robust and largely independent from the LHC results. The quark colliders are doing well in Japan and Italy (super B-factories) and in China (tau-charm factory). The most ambitious plans for future programs in neutrinos and rare muon and kaon decays are in the US and Japan with powerful facilities at Fermilab and J-PARC.
The general sense is that we have great opportunities ahead, including efforts on dark matter and dark energy; the world is moving forward with very strong support in Europe and Asia. Hopefully, we will soon have a regular budget from Congress that will eliminate the pause in any new starts, which have been blocked by 14 months of continuing resolutions. The image that struck me during the discussions at CERN comes from a saying I learned as a kid: “camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.”*
*”A river shrimp that falls asleep is carried away by the current.”