Director's Corner

Strategies and realities

| 16 May 2013

Steinar Stapnes (at that time leading the European Strategy process) announced the launch of the process to update the European strategy for particle physics during an ECFA-EPS special session in Grenoble, France, on 23 July, 2011.
Image: LPSC/Tomas Jezo

The European Strategy for Particle Physics has been submitted to the CERN Council. The goal is final approval in the coming weeks. The significance of the Strategy document is high. It has been drafted by a combination of a scientific preparation group and various appointed representatives of the CERN member states, including also representatives from other countries and/or regions. One important feature of the European process is that from draft to final approval in the Council takes only months, and the Council members/decision represent the governments directly. Secondly – as “global projects” have large cross-regional consequences and this process pre-dates other on-going processes in the US, Japan and other places – it has wide impact also beyond Europe, as a minimum serving as a possible example.

The LHC including its luminosity upgrade is a clear and rather obvious priority for the future, but the physics potential of future Linear Colliders is also well recognised in the Strategy statements. The relevant phrases were already quoted by Lyn Evans in his Director Corner in March:

For CLIC and higher energy hadron machine than LHC as options for post-LHC projects at CERN, “CERN should undertake design studies for accelerator projects in a global context, with emphasis on proton-proton and electron-positron high-energy frontier machines. These design studies should be coupled to a vigorous accelerator R&D programme, including high-field magnets and high-gradient accelerating structures, in collaboration with national institutes, laboratories and universities worldwide.”

For the ILC, “There is a strong scientific case for an electron-positron collider, complementary to the LHC, that can study the properties of the Higgs boson and other particles with unprecedented precision and whose energy can be upgraded. The Technical Design Report of the International Linear Collider (ILC) has been completed with large European participation. The initiative of the Japanese particle physics community to host the ILC in Japan is most welcome, and European groups are eager to participate. Europe looks forward to a proposal from Japan to discuss a possible participation”.

Other statements mention the importance of accelerator R&D, detector R&D and discuss CERNs role in the implementation of projects outside the CERN laboratory as well as its continued work with the European Commission (EC) to implement these strategies. Also these statements are relevant for the LC community.

What can and should we expect to happen in practice as a result? There are at least three main areas that are affected by this strategy: the CERN budget planning itself, the European Commission (EC) support for projects and activities, and various national funding programmes.

The CERN budget planning for 2014 and beyond is underway and it will be important to see these statements reflected in realities. Some key recommendations, in particular turning the LHC luminosity upgrade into a real-construction project over the next decade require significant resources, so the balance is non-trivial and delicate. Equally important, over the coming years, Horizon 2020 projects representing the EC implementation tools will unfold and the R&D efforts mentioned are expected to become priorities – discussed as part the implementation of the European Strategy for Particle Physics as stipulated in the Memorandum of Understanding between the European Commission and CERN. Finally the national priorities determine in many cases how the community can participate in the these projects and we all need to work hard to turn there priorities into realities also at this level. For the ILC there is an additional clear wish; a proposal from Japan to participate in such a project is seen as the next natural step to achieve a change of gear towards realisation.

Being optimistic, we can hope that other regional and national processes will not diverge in a significant way from the result of the European process. If this is the case, we will have reached – largely thanks to a bottom up process – an important consensus that should help the transition from strategies to realities in the coming years. New LHC results in 2015-16 might and will hopefully provide additional guidance but for the time being the directions are relatively clear.

We will also be very much helped if the linear collider community can plan and use resources across CLIC and ILC as efficiently as possible, to make the best possible use of our resources. In all areas related to luminosity performance of the machines, detector and physics studies, project planning and implementation studies, there are huge potentials for common efforts. Another feature of the real world and realities is that resources will remain a limitation and determine the speed of our progress.

Steinar Stapnes

Steinar Stapnes is Associate Director for the Compact Linear Collider Study in the Linear Collider Collaboration.
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