A new resource for the entire LHC community

The first time I addressed the CERN community as Director-General in January 2009, I said that I wished to see the intellectual life of the Laboratory develop. With the experiments rapidly accumulating data, now is the time for that to happen.

CERN is known as a global reference point for excellence in accelerator science, and our track record of providing world-class facilities is second to none. Simply stated, the division of labour between CERN and the experiments it hosts is that CERN has provided the beams and support systems from experimental areas to IT, while the experiments have done the physics. That doesn't mean, however, that CERN has no part to play in the intellectual life of the experiments. Our Theory group has always provided support to CERN's experiments, while CERN physicists, Staff and Fellows, are an essential part of every experiment conducted here.

With the LHC coming on stream, the time is right to create a focal point at CERN dedicated to the LHC research programme and open to everyone. Established earlier this year, the LHC Physics Centre at CERN (LPCC) serves this function and is already proving its worth as a place where physics issues of importance to all the experiments can be discussed, developed and implemented through a broad collaboration of experiment and theory. The LPCC joins similar centres at places such as DESY and Fermilab. Its activities range from organizing workshops to developing physics tools and providing a series of regular lectures for graduate students. It is a resource for the entire LHC community. You'll find further details in this Bulletin and on the LPCC's web site.

One thing that I had not anticipated back in January 2009 was the amount of time I would spend talking to people from political and business circles about CERN's management practices. How, they want to know, does CERN manage to achieve so much with such a diverse community of people and such simple, consensual and non-hierarchical management structures? How too does a system in which the host laboratory is a smaller organization than some of the collaborations it supports function so smoothly? Particle physics is a model of international, cross-cultural collaboration, and the LPCC is a further example of that ideal in action. The LPCC builds on a tradition that I saw developing during the LEP era.

With LEP, the scale of experiments at CERN took a big leap forward, as did the degree of collaboration between them. From operating as independent entities when LEP switched on in 1989, they went on to develop common working groups on many physics topics. And when LEP switched off in 2000, it was these working groups that had the last word. It's a model that works well. Sharing best practice and combining results delivers the best physics in the long run while not compromising the healthy spirit of competition that exists between the experiments. With the LPCC, the LHC community is picking up where LEP left off.

Rolf Heuer