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Frank Simon | MPI for Physics | Germany

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LCWS: A Quick Look Back

Me in front of the Bird's Nest, the stadium from the 2008 Olympics, last night. Thanks to Daniela for the picture!

Me in front of the Bird's Nest, the stadium of the 2008 Olympics, last night. Thanks to Daniela for the picture!

Time flies. LHC is taking data at 7 TeV… And I missed this, while sitting on a plane! I’m now well and truly out of sync with wherever in space-time I’m now located. I guess this is Tsukuba, Japan and it is a bit before midnight local time. But no matter when and where, it is an exciting time for particle physics. Just as Barry Barish, the director of the ILC Global Design Effort has said last night at the conference dinner of the Linear Collider Workshop (LCWS) in Beijing: The workshop will be remembered by most people not only for the things that were discussed there, but for being the workshop on the eve of the LHC physics startup.

As usual, there was very little time to go and explore the city, and I spend most of the days (which were quite sunny and clear due to some winds in Beijing) in darkened, windowless conference rooms. Still, in the evenings there were some opportunities to explore some Beijing landmarks, and the variety of Chinese cuisine. And: I have already seen parts of Beijing on a previous visit, and I’ll be back again in just a few weeks.

At the workshop, there were a number of new results reported from detector development, in-depth discussions on physics, and controversial arguments about the new baseline parameters of the accelerator. And, also as usual, I had my share to report at the meeting, too. While the technology development is moving forward, there is also a sense of hesitation of where to go: Particle physics is about to go through a revolutionary period, with discoveries by the LHC maybe (hopefully!) just around the corner. And these discoveries will shape the future of the field. They will decide what the right energy for a precision machine like the ILC is. So right now, while we are busy preparing detailed detector designs to be ready to go once the direction is clear, I am also wondering what that direction will be. The key factor here is the necessary energy. New (for example supersymmetric) particles at low mass could be explored with the already well established superconducting acceleration technology of the ILC, while in the case of higher mass scales for new physics we will need the CLIC technology which is still in its development phase. If LHC is going to perform as well as the initial success suggests, then we might know in just a few years. By that time, we will have a good answer how to provide the precision necessary to nail the details of the physics that the LHC is hopefully about to discover!

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