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It’s Out! April 26, 2006

Posted by gordonwatts in physics, politics.

The National Academy of the Sciences released their EPP 2010 report this morning. The even had a webcast (which should be archived soon as a podcast) and also a almost 200 page report. In summary: full stream ahead on the LHC and the International Linear Collider (ILC).

The panel that put this report together was non-standard for this field because it included physicists from other sub-fields besides particle physics. Condensed matter, physics, for example. Traditionally there has been little overlap between these two in particular; some of the most vocal critics of the ill-fated Super Conducting Super Collider (SSC) were condensed matter physicists for example. I've read only the findings at the end of the report so far, but I hope that their influence makes for a much more interesting report than it might otherwise be.

The panel was charged with laying out a 15 year plan that was realistic in the current funding climate and in line with the big physics questions of the day. A summary (my reading) of their prioritized list:

  1. Fully participate in the LHC and extract as much physics as possible.
  2. Invest in R&D for the ILC.
  3. Do our best to make the USA a site of the ILC.
  4. The NSF and DOE should work together to fund astrophysics experiments (especially dark matter related ones) that have overlap with particle physics.
  5. The NSF, DOE, and the rest of the world should work together to streamline the neutrino efforts that are ongoing. In particular, Europe and the US shouldn't have as much duplication of effort.
  6. Where possible, fund the small table-top experiments that make precision measurements involving things like sin2Beta and other fundamental constants. These traditionally happen under the umbrella of Atomic Physics. Fun the larger experiments that make fundamental measurements on a catch-as-catch can basis.
    I've only read the findings. I'm looking forward to reading the text and listening to the podcast to get a better understanding of what is meant by these various findings — to see if there are hidden meanings or comments on some of my favorite projects (LHC, ILC, LSST).

This is the fourth time I've written this post now. It took me a while to figure out that the version of the Google toolbar I had installed was not compatible with IE7 — only the new beta is.



1. Life as a Physicist » Read The Report - April 28, 2006

[…] The night before last I managed to read the EPP 2010 report. It is amazingly well written. Its intended audience seems to be someone with some general science education — definately not a particle phycisists. Start with Chapter 1. The overview, which is before chapter 1, is basically an executive summary. But starting with Chapter 1 they do their best to lay out arguments and reasons why particle physics is interesting. This sustained real-time interplay of experiment and theory has produced astonishing progress. In the first part of the 20th century, physicists learned that all matter here on earth is built out of subatomic particles known as electrons, protons, and neutrons. In the second half of the century, they discovered that protons and neutrons are composed of more fundamental particles known as quarks, and that the quarks and electrons that constitute everyday matter belong to families that include heavier and much rarer particles. They learned that particles interact through just four forces: gravity, electromagnetism, and two less familiar forces known as the strong force and the weak force. They developed a theoretical framework known as the Standard Model that describes and predicts the behavior of elementary particles with extremely high levels of precision. The development and extraordinarily precise testing of the Standard Model have been among the crowning achievements of 20th-century science. […]

2. Life as a Physicist » Report Getting Press - May 1, 2006

[…] The EPP 2010 report is getting a lot of press. I’ve seen a writeup in this week’s Economist. I really liked that one — those guys clearly spend some time getting to know the issues, both sides. The NYTimes had a good article today (which I had to read online because some #*#&^@^^# stole our paper for the second time in a row). Physics in America is at a crossroads and in crisis, just as humanity stands on the verge of great discoveries about the nature of matter and the universe, a panel from the National Academy of Sciences concludes in a new report. […]

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