U.S. physics strategy calls for greater global collaboration

Guest post by Andrew Grant

In a time of tightened budgets, the U.S. particle physics community should increase international collaboration without sacrificing its position as a leader in the field, according to a new report.

The Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) report, presented by a committee of physicists May 22 in Bethesda, Md., prioritizes the construction of a billion-dollar-plus neutrino facility and several smaller experiments for the next decade and beyond.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Moving forward on the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility in Batavia, Ill., which is slated to fire a beam of the ghostly particles to a detector 1,300 kilometers away by 2022. “Without the capability to host a large project, the U.S. would lose its position as a global leader in this field,” the report says. The committee recommends adding international partners to the facility to increase its capabilities and share costs.
  • Continued U.S. participation in the Large Hadron Collider, which discovered the Higgs boson in 2012. The U.S. should also contribute to the proposed International Linear Collider in Japan, which would further explore the Higgs by smashing together electrons and their antimatter counterparts, positrons.
  • Supporting experiments to detect particles of dark matter and telescopes to probe neutrinos and other exotic particles in space.

The report adjusts its priorities according to three funding scenarios; recent federal budget proposals suggest physicists might have to settle for the worst-case scenario, and there’s no guarantee that the government will support the projects. If approved by the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, the report’s recommendations will be passed on to the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

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