“The United States will have to cede its leadership in some areas of particle physics,” said Karsten Heeger, a physicist at Yale University and vice president of the P5. “This would have an impact that would be felt on the ground and beyond. »
Failing all that, the draft report urges the federal government to stay the course on projects it is already committed to, including increasing the luminosity, or collision rates, of the Large Hadron Collider for studies deeper insights into the Higgs and other rare phenomena. ; continued construction of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, a Chilean telescope designed to create time-lapse films of the cosmos; and a limited version of DUNE.
Because the lifespan of these projects spans decades, the committee has focused on supporting early-career scientists who will eventually take over the projects. “They are the future,” Dr. Murayama said.
The Department of Energy’s High Energy Physics Advisory Committee will vote on the draft report Friday afternoon. If the report is accepted, the committee will focus its efforts on gaining support for the plan, both within and outside the physics community. In particular, Dr. Murayama hoped that it would attract the attention of staff members who communicate with members of Congress on how to vote on the department’s budget.
“Basic research is a hard sell,” Dr. Murayama said. “It’s not an immediate benefit to society.” But the payoff is worth it, he added: Particle physics has led to revolutions in medical applications, materials science and even the creation of iPhones and the World Wide Web.
But according to Dr. Murayama, the benefits transcend the field’s impact on society. “Particle physics is really at the heart of what we are, who we are,” he said, adding that all of us, physicists or not, “would like to understand why we exist, where we come from and where we are going. .”