Report Lays Out "Roadmap" for U.S. High Energy Physics

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Publication date: 
30 January 2003

"Our roadmap is similar to a long-range strategic plan, in the sense that it will inform and guide our steps towards our scientific goals. However, the roadmap is not a detailed prescription for the next twenty years. Instead, it lays out the options. It allows us to define our direction, focus our efforts, and plan the steps we must take. The roadmap is intended to be a dynamic document, one that will be updated to adapt to changing circumstances, including new scientific results, technological developments, international partnerships, and progress in other fields." - "The Science Ahead: The Way to Discovery"

In preparing its Strategic Plan for release later this spring (see FYI #9), DOE's Office of Science will consider the guidance of its advisory bodies. One of the inputs to the Office of Science plan will be a report prepared last year by a long-range planning subpanel of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP). This report, "The Science Ahead: The Way to Discovery," lays out a roadmap for the U.S. particle physics program over the next 20 years.

The HEPAP report "provides an overview of the field, as well as an outline of the steps we must take to reach our goals." In a departure from many similar documents, it is not intended to be "a detailed prescription for the next twenty years," the authors say. "Instead, it lays out the options" for planning purposes, acknowledging that not all suggested options can be pursued. The report encourages international collaborations and partnerships with the related disciplines of astronomy, cosmology and nuclear physics, and calls for "a variety of scientific techniques," with the expectation that "a new generation of particle accelerators will again lead the way." It makes several key recommendations about the future of the program, including U.S. involvement in an electron-positron linear collider, and proposes an on-going panel to regularly revise the roadmap and prioritize options.

The report, according to the authors, lays out "a realistic plan" that would allow the U.S. to remain one of the worldwide leaders in high-energy physics. However, they note that this will require increased resources over the next 20 years. They also look at constant-level-of-effort scenarios in which the U.S. "can play an important but selective role in high-energy physics, but not in the leadership capacity advocated here." The report, which runs about 75 pages, is available in pdf format at The specific roadmap is provided in Appendix A.

The subpanel's major recommendations are as follows:

RECOMMENDATION ONE: "We recommend that the United States take steps to remain a world leader in the vital and exciting field of particle physics, through a broad program of research focused on the frontiers of matter, energy, space and time. The U.S. has achieved its leadership position through the generous support of the American people. We renew and reaffirm our commitment to return full value for the considerable investment made by our fellow citizens. This commitment includes, but is not limited to, sharing our intellectual insights through education and outreach, providing highly trained scientific and technical manpower to help drive the economy, and developing new technologies that foster the health, wealth and security of our nation and of society at large."

RECOMMENDATION TWO: "We recommend a twenty-year roadmap for our field to chart our steps on the frontiers of matter, energy, space and time. The map will evolve with time to reflect new scientific opportunities, as well as developments within the international community. It will drive our choice of the next major facility and allow us to craft a balanced program to maximize scientific opportunity. We recommend a new mechanism [a Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel, or ‘P5'] to update the roadmap and set priorities across the program. We understand that this will require hard choices to select which projects to begin and which to phase out. Factors that must be considered include the potential scientific payoff, cost and technical feasibility, balance and diversity, and the way any proposed new initiative fits into the global structure of the field."

RECOMMENDATION THREE: "We recommend that the highest priority of the U.S. program be a high-energy, high-luminosity, electron-positron linear collider, wherever it is built in the world. This facility is the next major step in the field and should be designed, built and operated as a fully international effort. We also recommend that the United States take a leadership position in forming the international collaboration needed to develop a final design, build and operate this machine. The U.S. participation should be undertaken as a partnership between DOE and NSF, with the full involvement of the entire particle physics community. We urge the immediate creation of a steering group to coordinate all U.S. efforts toward a linear collider."

RECOMMENDATION FOUR: "We recommend that the United States prepare to bid to host the linear collider, in a facility that is international from the inception, with a broad mandate in fundamental physics research and accelerator development. We believe that the intellectual, educational and societal benefits make this a wise investment of our nation's resources. We envision financing the linear collider through a combination of international partnerships, use of existing resources, and incremental project support. If it is built in the U.S., the linear collider should be sited to take full advantage of the resources and infrastructure available at SLAC and Fermilab."

RECOMMENDATION FIVE: "We recommend that vigorous long-term R&D aimed toward future high-energy accelerators be carried out at high priority within our program. It is also important to continue our development of particle detectors and information technology. These investments are valuable for their broader benefits and crucial to the long-range future of our field."

"The theoretical and experimental accomplishments of the past decade suggest that we are at the threshold of great discoveries," the report states. "Together, they show that our base is strong and our mission clear."