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Jonathan Asaadi | Syracuse University | USA

View Blog | Read Bio

To Run or Not To Run…that is the question!

Tevatron Accelerator

Tevatron Accelerator

There has been a great discussion raging at Fermilab surrounding the recent report given by the Physics Advisory Committee on August 31st. In this report the committee considered the impact of extending the life of the Tevatron through 2014 in what is being called around the lab Run III.

Basically what has been outlined is trying to answer the difficult question of whether or not the immediate physics payout of extending the life of the experiments and most likely doubling the data sets out weighs the potential impact on the future experiments at Fermilab. In addition, the performance of the experiments (CDF & D0) in terms of hardware, man power, and analysis reach have to be considered when viewed in light of the draw for many scientists to move onto other interesting experiments happening at Fermilab (NuMI, Project X, etc…) and elsewhere (CMS, ATLAS, and the like…)

What faces the lab, the director of Fermilab (Pier Oddone), and the scientists that work in the world of particle physics is a really difficult one. What they have to do is look into their crystal balls and ask the questions:

1) With the LHC going into a 15 month shutdown at the end of 2011, what will the data the is already on tape look like and what kind of physics reach will it provide us?

2) With the ever improving performance of the Tevatron and the experiments at Fermilab what is the likelihood of having a discovery with a larger data set (read: Find the Higgs or exclude the Standard Model flavor in the low mass ranges)

3) What does the funding question look like for the other interests of the lab in light of the extended running of the Tevatron? Not to mention the timeline / manpower / and resource availability!

These are just some of the big issues….there are clearly 100’s more that me as a lowly graduate student am probably not even aware of! But from my own perspective I see the PAC report as a great sign! Their conclusion was simple:

The Committee strongly endorses the extension of the Tevatron run for three years during 2011–2014 under either funding scenario presented in the charge. The Committee is aware that the development of the future programs might be severely affected and projects delayed by the Collider run. The Committee recommends that efforts be made to mitigate the effects. While the Tevatron run extension would take advantage of a compelling opportunity, the long-term plans of the Laboratory and of the field, as outlined by the P5 report, should be pursued vigorously.

I was really excited to hear this! As a young researcher on the verge of graduating I saw this recommendation as an opportunity to continue my with a post-doc at Fermilab working at a time in particle physics where the chance of a real discovery (Higgs/SUSY/Beyond Standard Model) is a real possibility and to be able to contribute to the American thrust of physics in the global arena during the shutdown/upgrade of the LHC.

There is no question what the future of high energy physics will be, and that is the Large Hadron Collider at CERN for many years. There is also no denying that Fermilab is looking to the future with the intensity frontier in such experiments like NuMI and Project X. However, we are at a time where the physics possibilities are so great, the timing too perfect, and the reach of our experiments so close, that I think it would be a shame not to extend the run and take this chance to make a major discovery!

Higgs Exclusion that could be extender (or discovery made) in the low mass region still to be explored

Higgs Exclusion that could be extended (or discovery made) in the low mass region still to be explored

I encourage everyone to read the PAC Report and get excited for the potential reach of the Tevatron! Coming back out of our summer shutdown we are already colliding with inital luminosities near 250 nb-1 and delivering 5000 nb-1 per store. There are so many exciting hints and clues in the analysis in the pipeline at CDF that adding more of this quickly accumulating data will help shed light on all the great mysteries.

Recent result from D0 showing hints of new physics to still be understood in the asymmetry of matter and anti-matter

Recent result from D0 showing hints of new physics to still be understood in the asymmetry of matter and anti-matter

So, when asked: “To run or not to run?” The answer is TO RUN! At least in this humble blogger’s opinion

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  • Jay

    I disagree. Fermilab is a single purpose laboratory. DOE likes single purpose laboratories because only one field is damaged if one is shut down. The Republicans want to cut 20+% of the non-defense discretionary budget. If the Tevatron is shut down as scheduled and the high intensity program begun it seems to me less likely that Fermilab would be closed altogether than if Run III is begun. If Run III is undertaken I can see all of Fermilab on the chopping block in FY12 or FY13 budget arguments. And how much would the government collect if it slowly sold the 6400 acres for commercial and residential development over the next two decades after closing the lab? Bill Foster will certainly fight for Fermilab but it will be hard if he’s in the minority in the House.

  • Jay

    http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/news/2709362,2_1_AU15_FERMILAB_S1-100915.article

    The FNAL local newspaper states that the Tevatron will shut down as scheduled in September 2011 unless DOE provides an additional $105M in the FY12 budget. It’s gone.