A new plan for U.S. particle physics

Fermilab Director
Nigel Lockyer

The planning process for the future of U.S. particle physics reached an important milestone yesterday with the presentation of the report of the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel. The P5 report lays out a 10-year prioritized strategy for U.S. particle physics that keeps our country — and our laboratory — at the forefront of research and discovery.

Approved yesterday by the members of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, the P5 report provides advice from our community to the Department of Energy and to the National Science Foundation for the agencies to consider when allocating funding for our field.

The P5 plan supports continued strong U.S. participation in the Large Hadron Collider, a world-leading neutrino program hosted at Fermilab using an upgraded accelerator complex, and major advances in the quest to understand dark matter and dark energy. The panel recommends completion of the Mu2e and Muon g-2 experiments at Fermilab, as well as U.S. participation in the International Linear Collider should Japan proceed to host the future facility.

The recommendations recognize that the United States is in a strong position to become the international center of accelerator-based neutrino research and that Fermilab has the know-how and infrastructure to power a world-leading neutrino program. If the U.S. funding agencies implement the plan, the lab’s expertise should also play a big role in enabling the next phase of LHC accelerator and detector upgrades, in the next generation of cosmic frontier experiments and in possible contributions to future colliders.

This report demonstrates that we are entering a new era of global planning for major particle physics projects. We have long worked in close partnership with our international colleagues. But we will need to take our cooperation and coordination to a whole new level as we look to build future discovery machines. The common long-term scientific vision expressed by the P5 report and last year’s European Strategy update are evidence that we are already well along this path.

Fermilab has a major role to play in achieving the ambitious goals outlined in the P5 report. It will take time and effort to realign our lab’s priorities to match those recommended by P5. This will include reformulating the Long-Baseline Neutrino Experiment into an internationally designed, coordinated and funded program that the panel dubbed the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility. It will mean ambitious changes to our scientific and campus infrastructure, an altered focus for our accelerator R&D programs and changes in our organization so that we can best support the community’s highest-priority activities.

The potential of particle physics for major discoveries about the fundamental nature of the universe has never been greater. I look forward to working with the lab’s employees, its thousands of users and our many international colleagues over the coming years to make this plan a reality.

Editor’s note: An all-hands meeting on the P5 report will take place on Wednesday, May 28, at 9:30 a.m. in Ramsey Auditorium. The meeting will be streamed live.