High Energy Physics Report Charts a Path Forward

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Publication date: 
4 May 2004

"We should seize the moment and embrace the challenges,"a study committee told the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) in a report issued in Washington on April 19. This unprecedented 20-page document responds to a request by senior Department of Energy and National Science Foundation officials for a report "which will illuminate the issues, and provide the funding and science policy agencies with a clear picture of the connected, complementary experimental approaches to the truly exciting scientific questions of this century."

Released six months after it was first requested by Ray Orbach (DOE) and Michael Turner (NSF), "Quantum Universe, The Revolution in 21st- Century Particle Physics," (http://www.interactions.org/pdf/Quantum_Universe.pdf) was produced by a 17-member committee drawn from national laboratories and universities, chaired by Persis Drell of SLAC. In her presentation to HEPAP, Drell said the report is intended to convey why this is the most exciting time in particle physics research in the last fifty years. Rather than a comprehensive, highly scientific review of the field, "Quantum Universe" was written for policy makers at the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Energy, as well as congressional staff. Not intended to prioritize projects or to attach a price tag to future research, the report is rather organized around "nine interrelated questions [that] define the path ahead." These questions are then mapped on two charts to high energy physics facilities categorized by size (major and smaller), and include accelerators, underground laboratories, space probes, and ground-based telescopes. The purpose of these charts, which Drell predicted would be of greatest interest to the community, is to show the relationship between the "nine key questions that define the field" and the facilities.

These nine questions, organized around three themes, follow:

Einstein's Dream of Unified Forces

1. Are there undiscovered principles of nature: new symmetries, new physical laws?
2. How can we solved the mystery of dark energy?
3. Are there extra dimensions of space?
4. Do all of the forces become one?

The Particle World

5. Why are there so many kinds of particles?
6. What is dark matter? How can we make it in the laboratory?
7. What are neutrinos telling us?

The Birth of the Universe

8. How did the universe come to be?
9. What happened to the antimatter?

In its concluding words the report states, "Many advances are within reach of our current program; others are close at hand. We are extraordinarily fortunate to live in a time when the great questions are yielding a whole new level of understanding. We should seize the moment and embrace the challenges."