The US High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) is meeting in Washington yesterday and today, and some of the presentations are already available on-line. These include one from the DOE Office of High Energy Physics which notes that, given budgetary constraints, the only way significant funds will become available for new projects (including significant work on the proposed ILC linear collider), is by shutting down operations at the Tevatron or PEP-II. The Tevatron is now scheduled to operate until 2009 (at which point it can’t compete with the LHC), PEP-II at SLAC until 2008. The DOE is asking the P5 committee to advise about whether or not it might be a good idea to shut these facilities down early, and redirect the funds that are freed up elsewhere.
There are also reports on the status of PEP-II and the Tevatron. PEP-II and other accelerators at SLAC were shut down after an accident last October, only turned back on last month. The plan now is to run the machine steadily until July 2006, with only a one-month break in October. Presumably it’s down today, since if you try and connect to the SLAC web-site, you get a message saying that power is out at SLAC due to a tree falling and severing the main power feed to the site.
The Tevatron is doing well this year, recently achieving record luminosity, and its integrated luminosity so far this year is running ahead of even optimistic projections. It seems highly unlikely to me that the P5 committee will suggest shutting it down early.
There’s also a report from the ongoing National Academy of Sciences EPP2010 study of the future of US particle physics. Presentations from a meeting earlier this week at Fermilab are now available. These include presentations dealing with what is going on outside the US, including ones from DESY in Germany and KEK in Japan.
The biggest issue facing US particle physics is what to do about the International Linear Collider (ILC) project. In the presentation of Michael Witherell (ex-director of Fermilab), he notes that the world is in a transition from having five major labs running the largest accelerators to possibly only two: CERN with the LHC, and wherever the ILC is sited, if it is built. For US experimental high energy physics to remain a world leader, it is crucial that the ILC be built, and built in the US. Witherell recalls how the US HEP budget has declined by $100-150 million in real dollars over the last few years, but then gives a plan for the future that involves this budget increasing by 4% over inflation every year, something I find hard to believe is going to happen. The EPP2010 site also contains feedback they have received from various members of the community in response to questions about plans for the ILC.