U.S.-CERN Relationship Upgrade Good News for Fermilab

U.S.-CERN Relationship Upgrade Good News for Fermilab


In a May 7 White House ceremony in Washington, D.C., representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. National Science Foundation and the European research center CERN signed a cooperation agreement that lays the groundwork for continued joint research in particle physics and advanced computing both at CERN and in the United States.

That’s more good news for Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, right here in Kane County, IL.

CERN already has established a test facility that is being used to refurbish the 760-ton ICARUS neutrino detector before it is shipped to Fermilab for use in a suite of experiments to search for a new type of neutrino. At the same time, more than 1,700 scientists from U.S. institutions are working on the next phase of the LHC experiments.

The agreement succeeds an existing U.S.-CERN agreement, signed in 1997 and set to expire in 2017, that was the basis for significant U.S. participation in research at the Large Hadron Collider. The new agreement aligns the United States’ and CERN’s long-term strategies for particle physics and provides for “reciprocity,” opening the way for potential CERN participation in US-hosted experiments, including prospective projects focused on neutrinos.

“Today’s agreement not only enables U.S. scientists to continue their vital contribution to the important work at CERN, but it also opens the way to CERN’s participation in experiments hosted in the United States,” says Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in a press release. “As we’ve seen, international collaboration between the United States and CERN helps provide a foundation for groundbreaking discoveries that push crucial scientific frontiers and expand our understanding of the universe.”

Scientists from European institutions have made major contributions toward planning and advancing experiments at Fermilab, SLAC and other DOE national laboratories. In the last two decades, they accounted for up to 50 percent of the researchers working on the Tevatron and BaBar experiments in the U.S., which led to the discovery of the top quark and the observation of quark mixing in greater detail than ever before.

Today, the American and European physics communities remain closely intertwined. Scientists and engineers from US institutions are heavily involved in LHC research, representing 20 percent of the ATLAS collaboration and 33 percent of the CMS collaboration. US scientists hold key leadership positions within the several-thousand-physicist collaborations, and they lead many of the physics analyses that study the properties of the Higgs boson and look for hints of new physics. UCSB physicist Joe Incandela, who was the spokesperson of the CMS experiment from 2012 to 2014, presented the collaboration’s results at the press conference that announced the discovery of the Higgs boson.

SOURCE: Fermilab Today newsletter (subscribe here)