Yesterday was, I suppose, the biggest and most formal day here at the 35th International Conference of High Energy Physics. I wore my suit, and took some ribbing from some of my colleagues for dressing up so much, but I’ve worn it for far less excuse and am not sorry in the slightest. It’s not every day, or even every ICHEP, that one hears an address from the President of the French Republic!
Mr. Sarkozy’s speech was great to hear. He is a very emotive, enthusiastic, and informal speaker, which made him relatively easy to understand for those in the audience (like me) with limited French. He didn’t claim to know the details of our work, and seemed to think we’re all a little weird, but spoke mostly about the importance of fundamental questions about the universe and his support for basic research. This was very well received indeed. He also talked a bit about the contributions of the French labs to the LHC and other projects, which is fair: France plays one of the central roles at CERN, and the French particle physics community has made significant contributions throughout the field. This is reflected in the excellent and informative conference that they’re hosting here in Paris.
If there was one thing I would ask to be improved for the next ICHEP, however, I wish there had been a bit more food at the banquet! You can see the banquet, which was held in the National Natural History Museum, at right. It was a very impressive museum — the main hall reminds me of the ATLAS cavern, and seems to be just about the same size — and the food was certainly varied and interesting. But the lines were long to get even a little of it, and we had to go out to dinner afterwards to be full.
Yesterday was also the final talk on the combined Tevatron Higgs results. Fermilab sent out the press release while we were still on coffee break, so I saw the excluded mass range on Twitter before going into the talk. (I overcame the temptation to shout out the answer at the start.) It was still a very entertaining talk, and obviously the details of how the measurement was done were as important to see as the final numbers. Of course, we all wish there had been more to see than mass limits in the expected range and a few possible tantalizing hints. We also had talks from the CERN’s Director for Accelerators and Technology on the LHC and from the spokespeople of the LHC experiments. Although we haven’t seen anything really new at the LHC yet, it’s clear that the accelerator and experiments are all making great progress in getting ready to make the exciting discoveries that we’ll see at future conferences!