As the year draws to a close, we look back, celebrate our achievements, and build plans for the year to come.
The year 2018 will be remembered as a very eventful year for CMS as a whole and especially for the Fermilab group. Thanks to excellent accelerator performance, the LHC delivered much more proton-proton collision data than anticipated, making the LHC Run 2 a very successful data-taking period. Being at the very core of the detector maintenance, operations and computing, Fermilab scientists and engineers were key in ensuring that a large and high-quality data set was collected for searches and precision measurements. The breadth and the depth of the science program that Fermilab is in a position to carry out, thanks to the increasingly larger data sets, can be quantified in the number of peer-reviewed journal publication: 833 collider data papers submitted as of today and with 2018 being the most publications-productive year of any HEP experiment ever.
One of these superb results stands out, based on ~100/fb of data: the observation of the Higgs boson decaying into a pair of b quarks, in which the Fermilab group played a very important role. This historical milestone demonstrates that the LHC can probe the coupling of the Higgs boson to the third-generation quarks (thought to be unachievable with a data set smaller than 300/fb before the LHC startup) and builds on the Fermilab historical expertise in reconstruction of b quarks and highly boosted objects. Already looking into the future, we are now pushing the experimental boundaries, aiming at the observation of Higgs decaying into second generation c quarks.
Along with continuing the characterization of the Higgs boson, Fermilab is pursuing other lines of inquiry, with great potential for discovery: direct and indirect searches for dark matter and new particles, new symmetries, new dimensions of space-time, and the “unknown.” Fermilab casts a broad and yet fine-grained net into the data, looking for deviations from the Standard Model predictions through model-independent searches, voluminous searches for supersymmetry, innovative and cutting-edge novel searches targeting unexplored regions of parameter space, and by developing a precision program, investigating Standard Model parameters that may unveil new phenomena at very large energy scales.
On a second front, we are involved in the upgrade of the CMS detector. We are taking the last step in the Phase-1 upgrade with the installation of the barrel calorimeter electronics, while preparing for the Phase-2 upgrade to be installed in ~2024-2026: Scientists, engineers and technicians at the laboratory are already actively working to design and build the tracker, end-cap calorimeter, trigger and a new timing detector. As a result of the Phase-2 upgrade, CMS will be a novel, cutting edge, and more granular detector, with enhanced capabilities for discovery at the High-Luminosity LHC.
Most of the technologies developed for the CMS Phase-2 upgrade are setting the foundations for detectors at future colliders. The expertise we acquire is therefore ensuring Fermilab’s leading role in designing and building detectors at future colliders, for example, the International Linear Collider and the 100 TeV Future Circular Collider.
More information means larger data sets to handle and store. For example, the new data set will be thousand times larger than the current one and thus a new challenge to solve. Fermilab is leading the R&D in software (SW) and computing: new storage architectures, usage of commercial clouds and high-performance computers, integration of GPUs and FPGAs for fast processing of data, machine learning, new data formats, and more.
Finally, the year 2018 has been extraordinarily effective for the LHC Physics Center (or LPC) as well: the Data Analysis School hosted the largest number of students to date (over 80 along with 40 facilitators), the Annual LHC Users Association Meeting, many workshops (ranging from physics at LHC and HL-LHC to advanced analysis techniques and detector R&D). The LPC continues to be a vibrant research environment where Fermilab scientists, colleagues from universities, Distinguished Researches and visitors construct a cutting-edge research program at the energy frontier.
Exploration of the largest high-energy proton-proton data set ever collected, completion of the Phase-1 upgrade, preparation for Run 3, prototyping for Phase-2, and the expansion of the SW & Computing R&D are ahead of us: 2019 promises to be another exciting year for the Fermilab group in CMS.
Anadi Canepa is the head of the Fermilab CMS Department.