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Frank Simon | MPI for Physics | Germany

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Strategy Discussions – And LHC Excitement

The Annual Meeting Season continues: My second overnight trip this week took me to Bad Honnef, a small village on the river Rhine a few miles south of Bonn, Germany. Bad Honnef is the location of the headquarters of the German Physical Society, which also operates a meeting center there. Starting yesterday afternoon, this center was the venue of the annual meeting of German particle physicists. This meeting is not a big conference: It is attended mostly by directors, professors and group leaders at German universities and institutes. The main goal is to discuss strategies and open issues for particle physics in Germany as a whole.

This year, the main focus was on the discussion of a new brochure on the status and perspectives of particle physics in Germany, which is currently being drafted. This brochure, which in the end will be something like 70 pages long, is targeted at funding agencies and the interested public, and as such is quite important for the representation of our field. The previous version from 2002 is a bit outdated obviously, so a new one is clearly needed. The key part of this brochure is a set of five recommendations, which topics and projects we see as important for the field in Germany. Since this has a strong impact on funding decisions by the agencies the debate about this was quite agitated at times. I think we have reached a good consensus, but further discussion will go on. I am contributing to a chapter on detector development and technology in the new  brochure, a topic that was not included in the previous version. A first draft exists, but there is still quite a bit of work ahead of me. A particular effort will be to bring everything to a common level, that can also be understood by non-experts. And this with the quite severe space constraints in such a text. So, there is a lot of work ahead.

Still, despite the heated discussions about a variety of topics, we could not escape the excitement of the restart of the LHC and first beam last night, the CERN twitter page remained open on the screen all evening, with updates being announced between arguments in the room…

This morning, we also got a live report from LHC via EVO link, conveniently timed with an access period at the LHC (no beam, less work for the operators). This access became necessary to tune some settings of the machine. So, we’ve been told that the plan for the next few days is to consolidate operations over the weekend, improve the beam optics and so on. Increased energy is probably still a ways off, despite some rumors that there might be energies beyond 1 TeV per beam still over the weekend. There might even be chances for collisions at injection energy over the next few days. However, these will not be of a quality were the detectors (in particular the sensitive inner detectors) can be turned on, I guess.

Exciting times in particle physics all around… What could be better to think about the road to the future?

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