HEPAP and the Tevatron Extension

by Pier Oddone
Fermilab, Director

(The following essay appeared in “The Director’s Corner” on November 2, 2010. At the request of Director Oddone to make the DPF aware of the issues connected to the proposed Tevatron extension, we repeat it here. We invite your comments and reactions below.)

On October 26th the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel met to consider the recommendations made by its P5 subpanel in connection with the proposed Tevatron extension. Professor Charlie Baltay, the chairman of P5, made a presentation on the reasons for the recommendations followed by discussions and a vote. HEPAP endorsed the P5 report and transmitted the recommendations to DOE. The conclusions of P5 are summarized in two recommendations:

Recommendation 1: The panel recommends that the agencies proceed with a three-year extension of the Tevatron program if the resources required to support such an extension become available in addition to the present funding for HEP. Given the strong physics case, we encourage the funding agencies to try to find the needed additional resources.

Recommendation 2: The panel recommends that Fermilab make a strong effort to minimize the impact of an extended Tevatron run on the NOvA experiment.

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the Tevatron extension is what has made all of this possible: the remarkable performance achieved by the Tevatron and its two physics collaborations, CDF and DZero. This performance has extended the Tevatron reach into the most interesting territory of our time: the search for the Higgs boson. This very pleasant thought is quickly replaced by many others about the steps that lie ahead to avoid turning a very good thing into a bad thing.

One very bad thing could occur if we lost the momentum we have built towards new major experiments at the Intensity Frontier such as LBNE and Mu2e or had an impact on the community regarding its move to upgrade the LHC or other forward-looking experiments at the Intensity and Cosmic frontiers. We must build the facilities that will define the future of our field. That is why the HEPAP recommendation is conditioned on securing additional resources to prevent this negative outcome. The laboratory is committed to work toward this goal and I have made it clear at all the relevant levels of the administration and Congress that we do not want to extend the Tevatron run if the resources needed beyond the proposed squeeze in the Fermilab program are extracted from the rest of the HEP program.

An unavoidable bad thing is the impact on the NOvA physics program, which would receive reduced beam intensity while the Tevatron continues to run. We are committed to mitigate this problem as much as possible and we will study how we can increase the beam power and the mass of the detector as recommended by HEPAP. The unique physics made possible by the NOvA program will be achieved with some delay, one that we will try to minimize.

We are at a very special moment in particle physics. The Tevatron has the potential to contribute to the day’s most important physics investigation and the LHC will open a huge new area for exploration. We also have a planned formidable program at the Intensity Frontier for Fermilab and Japan; and detectors that will make the next steps in the discovery of dark matter and the understanding of dark energy.

Together we must continue to project the excitement of our field to the public, to future generations of scientists and engineers and to our government sponsors.

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