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Posts Tagged ‘policy’

This article ran in Fermilab Today March 1.

IL. Sen. Richard Durbin visited Argonne National Laboratory Monday, Feb. 28, to meet with directors of Argonne and Fermilab. Photo: Courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory

During the last week we have had two important visits by our legislators. Last week the Honorable Randy Hultgren visited the laboratory and spent an hour with senior managers hearing about our contributions to science and our plans for the future. We appreciated his visit very much in this season of great uncertainty. Representative Hultgren explained his support and enthusiasm for the work we do here at Fermilab. He also explained the difficult fiscal situation for the nation and the fact that cuts will have to be made in many programs. He was eloquent in expressing his commitment to our long term success and he plans to visit again later this month. He has expressed this support for Fermilab in other venues as well.

Yesterday I had the privilege to participate in the Honorable Richard Durbin’s visit to Argonne National Laboratory. Eric Isaacs, director of ANL, Bob Zimmer, the president of the University of Chicago and senior managers from Argonne, Fermilab and the DOE Chicago Operations and Argonne site office hosted Senator Durbin. We were able to explain the broad range of science carried out by our two laboratories. Senator Durbin explained his support for science, for technological innovation and the roles that the two laboratories play in Illinois and the nation. He explained his position that a much broader approach to getting our fiscal house in order is necessary, where all aspects of government expenditures have to be on the table and the transition towards a more balanced budget must be done without causing irreparable damage.

About a month ago I visited the Honorable Mark Kirk in Washington, DC. He expressed his support for the science we do at Fermilab. Senator Kirk is quite familiar with Fermilab and a very enthusiastic supporter. I always remember running into him in Wilson Hall one Saturday some time ago, when he had brought a bus full of students from his district to learn about Fermilab!

We are very fortunate that our two Senators and our representative, as well as the representatives of other districts in Illinois, understand the importance of a healthy Fermilab and healthy ANL for the good of Illinois and the nation. They are committed to our success and we must continue to give them good reasons for that support.

— Pier Oddone, Fermilab director


The Future of Fermilab

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

This article ran in Fermilab Today, Feb. 23.

The era of the Tevatron is about to come to a close. The Tevatron has certainly been the showcase of our physics program for more than 25 years, but it is only one of nine accelerators and storage rings that make up our complex.

Fermilab’s plan for the future includes upgrading its lower-energy accelerators and using them for new experiments including the NOvA neutrino experiment and several other experiments that will take advantage of an upgraded Proton Source, Main Injector and Recycler. These upgrades will begin next year. The Main Injector and Recycler upgrades will be completed during the major shutdown of the complex scheduled to begin in March 2012 and last about one year.

Further in the future our laboratory will focus on Project X, which will take us into the high-intensity realm. This proposed experimental program should open windows to new physics that we may never reach by going to higher and higher energies. Pursuit of these questions has brought us to the understanding of the world that we have now, and has created the amazing world that we live in today.

Creating such an exciting future for Fermilab will take the same kind of dedication and talent that Fermilab employees have demonstrated over the past 25 years in order to make the Tevatron a success. I have no doubt that we have the talent necessary to achieve even more impressive goals in the future.

— Roger Dixon, head of the Fermilab Accelerator Division

To learn more about Fermilab’s current experiments and future plans, view the Plan for the Future website.


Supporting science at home and abroad

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

This Thanksgiving particle physicists have a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which have been the exciting progress with collisions at the LHC.

Happy ATLAS Scientists

Happy ATLAS Scientists, Image from the ATLAS press release.

While images of happy LHC-ers made a big splash in the media, somewhat understated in the news was President Obama’s reaffirmation of his commitment to science and science education through the a new “Educate to Innovate” campaign whose goal is to make American science and mathematics education second to none. Here’s the video of the announcement (and the transcript):

[youtube 33_nZaOUWYw]

If I may interject some personal opinion, a concerted effort to elevate “STEM” (“science, technology, engineering, and math”) education in the US is as important (if not more so) to the sustained well-being of American science as the LHC. The president also made the key point that this is important not just for the sake of science itself, but also for the country as a whole:

The key to meeting these challenges — to improving our health and well-being, to harnessing clean energy, to protecting our security, and succeeding in the global economy — will be reaffirming and strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation.  And that leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today, especially in those fields that hold the promise of producing future innovations and innovators.  And that’s why education in math and science is so important.

The Educate to Innovate Campaign draws from the private and public sectors to find ways to promote science to kids. As someone who grew up watching Bill Nye the Science Guy, I was very pleased to see that many of these plans involve tying in science programming on television shows. Further, it was good to hear the president reaffirm the goal that we need to transform the culture of education in this country. He remarked that during his recent trip to Asia, he was impressed by the “hunger for knowledge” and “insistence on excellence” that formed the foundation of each students’ education.

Speaking of Asia, I would be remiss if I didn’t share another understated physics news item from this past week: the Institute for Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU) is in danger of funding cuts from the newly elected Japanese government. For those that are not familiar, the IPMU was recently established to be a high-profile international center for research on the interface of physics and mathematics. It has great potential to act as a focus for theoretical physics in Japan that can connect physicists and mathematicians from all over the world. As reported by Sean at Cosmic Variance, funding cuts are looming ominously for IPMU and the Japanese Ministry of Education and Science is looking for input from scientists around the world. More information is available in an IPMU press release.

Earlier this year the Science and Technology Facilities Council of the United Kingdom provided a renewed funding grant to the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP) at Durham University, where I was fortunate to have been able to spend a year as a student. Hopefully IPMU will also be able to continue onwards even during tight economic times.

I know this is the US LHC blog, but the fact of the matter is that particle physics is very much an international effort. CERN itself was, in some sense, a precursor to the European Union and today scientists from around the world contribute to the forefront of particle physics research. Researchers at American universities hail from all over the world and academia flourishes in this environment of diverse backgrounds. And you know what? That’s part of what makes this line of work so much fun. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!