A week at CERN, the laboratory that hosts the Large Hadron Collider [LHC] (where the Higgs particle was discovered), is always extremely packed, and this one was no exception. It’s very typical that on a given day I’ll have four or five intense one-on-one scientific meetings with colleagues, both theorists and experimenters, and will attend a couple of presentations on hot topics — or perhaps ten, if there’s a conference going on (which is almost always.) Work starts at 9 am and typically ends at 7 pm. And of course I have my own work to do — papers to finish, for instance — so after a break for dinner, I keep working til midnight. Squeezing in time for writing blog posts can be tough under these conditions! But at least it is for very good reasons.
Just this morning I’ve just attended two talks related to a future particle physics collider that people are starting to think seriously about… a collider (currently called T-LEP) that would be built in an 80 kilometer-long [50 mile-long] circular tunnel, and in which electrons and positrons [positron = anti-electron] would be smashed together. The physics program of such a machine would be quite broad, including intensive studies of the four heaviest known particles in nature: the Z particle, the W particle, the Higgs particle and the top quark. Any one of them might reveal secrets when investigated in detail. In fact, T-LEP’s extremely precise measurements, made in the 100-500 GeV = 0.1-0.5 TeV energy range, would be used to check the equations that explain how the Higgs field gives elementary particles their masses to one part in a thousand, and to potentially be indirectly sensitive to effects of unknown particles and forces all the way up to 10-30 TeV energy scales.
After that I had a typical meeting with an experimentalist at the CMS experiment, discussing the many ways that one might still make discoveries using the existing 2011-2012 LHC data. The big concern here is that the LHC experimenters are so busy getting ready for the 2015 run of the LHC that they may not fully exploit the data that they already have.
Off to more meetings…