LBNE review at Fermilab and US-PRC meeting at Daya Bay

Fermilab Director
Pier Oddone

What was perhaps the laboratory’s most important event last week—the successful Department of Energy CD-1 review of LBNE—became a demonstration of valiant efforts by researchers and project reviewers alike. We are very appreciative of the agency’s and reviewers’ efforts to hold the review despite the difficulties of travel due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Several participants from the collaboration, DOE and the review committee rescheduled their flights to Fermilab to avoid the storm. Others had to join the meeting through the Web or by phone, including one LBNE spokesperson who had to hand-crank a generator to keep his cell phone running. Participants in this successful CD-1 review acknowledged the enormous effort by the LBNE collaboration and the involvement of many members of the community to help the laboratory with the reconfiguration process. The review recommendation was for approval of CD-1, which hopefully will be granted by DOE before the end of the year. This is a necessary milestone for the project.

For the last two days I have been in Daya Bay, China for the 33rd yearly meeting of the US-PRC Joint Committee on High Energy Physics. This committee discusses collaborative items accomplished in the previous year and agrees on a program of activities for the following year. Jim Siegrist, associate director for high-energy physics in the DOE Office of Science, and Liu Minghua, associate director general of the Bureau for Basic Sciences of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, co-chaired the committee. Representatives from six U.S. national laboratories also participated.

The meeting renewed my appreciation for how quickly China is moving to build scientific facilities such as light sources and neutron sources for its growing number of researchers. It was also an opportunity to visit the site of the very successful Daya Bay neutrino experiment, made possible by the collaboration between the United States and China, and the construction site of the Chinese Spallation Neutron Source, which is making rapid progress in Dounguan, about a 90-minute drive from Hong Kong.

Along with the Higgs-like particle discovery, the results from the Daya Bay experiment were the great physics news of 2012. I was especially glad to see the experiment since I had been present for the birth of the idea in Berkeley more than a decade ago when it was first proposed to be built near the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactor, and later proposed to be set up in proximity to the Daya Bay reactors. The facility is impressive, starting with the six reactor cores with 18 gigawatts of thermal capacity, moving to the extensive underground infrastructure and extending to the fantastic care with which the systematics were controlled in the eight large detector modules. Future running of the experiment will improve the precision of the measured neutrino parameter and the reach of other experiments such as LBNE.

Fermilab Director Pier Oddone and IHEP Director Wang Yifang visit the underground Daya Bay detector site. Wang Yifang, along with Kam Biu Luk of Berkeley Laboratory, is co-spokesperson for the Daya Bay experiment. Photo: Fermilab