Neutrinos are everywhere

Joe Lykken

Neutrinos are indeed everywhere, but during the past week at Fermilab we have been up to our eyeballs in neutrino physicists as well.

The first official gathering of the DUNE collaboration brought a healthy fraction of the 769 DUNE physicists to Fermilab, representing 147 universities and labs from around the globe. For three jam-packed days the collaboration discussed both neutrino science and plans for moving ahead quickly with their proposed long-baseline experiment. The Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment features more than 40 kilotons of liquid-argon detectors almost a mile underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota, a fine-grained near detector at Fermilab and a tunable megawatt-class wide-band neutrino beam made possible by the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility and the planned PIP-II accelerator upgrade. The DUNE collaboration is focused on getting the first detector module underground and taking data as soon as possible.

Two auxiliary meetings provided a boost to the ambitions of the DUNE physicists. The first was a two-day workshop on risk management for both the DUNE and LBNF projects, a significant step towards preparing for the DOE critical-decision review process. The second was a meeting of the newly formed Long Baseline Neutrino Committee, a cadre of top physicists from around the world chaired by David MacFarlane of SLAC. The LBNC will review the scientific, technical and managerial preparations of the neutrino program, providing feedback of inestimable value to both the DUNE collaborators and Fermilab management.

On the weekend Fermilab hosted a meeting of the leadership of the three liquid-argon based experiments that constitute the new short-baseline neutrino program SBN. These experiments are MicroBooNE, which is nearly ready for data taking, ICARUS, currently being refurbished at CERN, and the recently renamed SBND near detector. The collaborations are launching joint efforts to maximize the physics reach of the SBN program and reported the good news that six U.S. groups have recently applied to join ICARUS.

Also on the weekend, Fermilab hosted a broader gathering of the international neutrino community under the auspices of ApPIC, the Astroparticle Physics International Committee chaired by Michel Spiro, and the ICFA Neutrino Panel chaired by Ken Long. Last but not least, yesterday and today the lab welcomed the 17 funding agency representatives of ApPEC, the Astroparticle Physics European Consortium. This meeting, steered by Stavros Katsanevas and Frank Linde, focused on preparations for large neutrino infrastructures proposed or planned around the world.

The mood pervading this week of neutrino extravaganza is most cogently summarized by Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia: “We’re doing great,” he said.