There is a HEPAP meeting going on today, with release of the long-awaited P5 report prioritizing future HEP spending. The report is available here now, to be officially unveiled later in the day and discussed at the HEPAP meeting. The muon collider as a future project gets a strong endorsement as the “muon shot”.
The full report is now available here.
There will be continued discussion of the P5 report at HEPAP tomorrow, and at a Town Hall at Fermilab on Monday.
While the theory side of HEP in principle is part of this report, the attention to theory is minimal, with the report recommendations about theory, in total:
- The substance-less “Enhance research in theory to propel innovation, maximize scientific impact of invest-
ments in experiments, and expand our understanding of the universe.”
- A more substantive call to give university theorists on DOE grants more money, with no attempt to prioritize what the money would be for:
Increase DOE HEP-funded university-based theory research by $15 million per year in 2023 dollars (or about 30% of the theory program), to propel innovation and ensure international competitiveness. Such an increase would bring theory support back to 2010 levels. Maintain DOE lab-based theory groups as an essential component of the theory community.
In the page or so of text about theory, the emphasis is on the phenomenology part of theory in contact with experiment. About formal theory there is just
Theorists uncover the mathematical patterns that describe the universe and explore alternate mathematical universes to deepen our understanding of nature. Theoretical investigations into quantum gravity have unlocked connections between extreme space-time geometries and information theory. The perspectives theorists bring to particle physics play an important role in inspiring young scientists.
Update: Sabine Hossenfelder has her reaction to the P5 report here. I’m sympathetic to her critique that, as far as experiments go, the report is an argument for “more of the same”. But I’m not at all sympathetic to her alternative: “Personally, I think what they should do is spend some money on serious theory development” instead of funding experiments. If there’s a part of science where money spent by the US has been much more of a waste than in HEP experiment, it’s HEP theory, which is now pretty much intellectually dead. There’s a good argument that the way HEP theory funding works has been a driving factor in this fatal illness, so that the problem with HEP theory is not too little funding but too much.