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Alexey Petrov | WSU | USA

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The last day of Tevatron

Today, September 30th, is the last day of operations of the largest US particle accelerator, the venerable Tevatron. Form many years it defined the American (and world’s) program in high energy particle physics. It saw its share of discoveries and trained a  ton of graduate students. For a theorist, Tevatron has continuously been a source of new data to explain or a machine that can confirm or rule out a model. What are the most significant papers that came out of the Tevatron?

In order to answer this question, let us use a tool that every theorist has in its disposal: SLAC SPIRES database. To be exact, we’ll use its modern incarnation, the INSPIRE. A quick search reveals that the most influential paper that came out of Tevatron (and the forth most influential that came out of Fermilab) is “Observation of top quark production in pˉp collisions” by  the CDF Collaboration, closely followed by a similar paper “Observation of the top quark” from the DO collaboration. Those papers from the two biggest Tevatron experiments describe the discovery of the sixth quark, the heaviest known so far — and probably the heaviest we shall ever see!

What is more striking is that while Tevatron was built to explore the “energy frontier“, i.e. to directly observe New Physics particles, the most influential papers that came out of CDF and D0 collaborations have to do with flavor physics (see also my recent colloquium)! In particular, papers on top quark discovery, discovery and precision measurements of of Bs-meson oscillations (see CDF and D0 papers),  measurements of J/psi (a bound state of charm and anti-charm quars) and b-quark production cross sections were sited by hundreds of researchers worldwide. Many of those analyses — as well as others, e.g. related to precision measurements of properties of W-bosons — greatly influenced indirect searches for physics beyond the Standard Model. I use those results routinely in my work! So maybe the decision to move Fermilab towards “intensity frontier” (i.e. careful precision studies of particle processes at lower energies to catch a glimpse of virtual New Physics particles) is the wise move based on the legacy of Tevatron.

 

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