Fermilab Annual User’s Meeting
I attended the annual user's meeting at Fermilab this week. I have been to about 10 of them over the years and this was the most interesting one I can remember. There were several interesting "political" talks in addition to the physics talks. A combination of circumstances have come together on the political front: the release of the "Rising above the Gathering Storm" report from the National Academies, American Competitiveness Initiative, the passage of the increased budget for the DOE Office of Science in the House of Representatives, and the release of the EPP2010 report. On the physics front the Tevatron experiments are now reporting on large data samples, MINOS has presented their first accelerator oscillation result, and even MiniBoone seems on the verge of releasing their long awaited result.
On the political side, Representative Judy Biggert of Illinois, who chairs the Science Subcommittee on Energy gave a talk that concentrated on the budget for the Office of Science and the prospects for the International Linear Collider. She called on those present to contact their Senators and encourage them to support the Office of Science budget in the Senate.
Norman Augustine's talk was actually a public lecture attended by people from the local community in addition to physicists. The thrust of the Gathering Storm report is broader than I had realized. It is about more than just increasing funding for basic research in the physical sciences. It is about improving science eduction in the K-12 education system. This will require more teachers with a real scientific background and new ways of teaching.
Harold Shapiro gave his impressions on what the EPP 2010 report means. I took three things away from his talk. The first was that only by building the ILC in the US will the US maintain a leadership position in high energy physics. This does not mean a dominant position but an equal with any other program in the world. A neutrino program is worthwhile physics and should be pursued, but even the most aggressive neutrino program you can conceive will not keep the US in a leadership position. The third point is that we should not abandon any of the major subfields but we have to do more work outside the country as we build an ILC than some would desire.
The first physics talk I heard was on a search for SUSY with trileptons. It was given by a young woman from Purdue. It was an excellent talk. SUSY is not an area that I have worked in, although I know the basics. She gave a very nice short introduction into SUSY and why it is important. Then she discussed why trileptons are considered the golden mode for searching for SUSY. There was no signal but the data set is now getting large enough that there is hope that SUSY can be found if it exists.
I also heard talks on the results from MINOS, MiniBoone, Bs mixing, and measuring the mass of the top quark using all hadronic final states.