Half term report

This week marks the mid-point of my mandate as Director General, so what better time to take stock of the last two and a half years and look forward to the next? 


On the surface, the report is good. The LHC is performing well, Council has just approved our medium term plan, and the there seem to be few clouds on CERN’s long-term horizon. It’s precisely at times like this, however, that complacency would be most dangerous. The world is still in the grip of an economic crisis, and recovery in our Member States is slow. CERN is still in debt, as are our social security systems. We are working on this, but these factors need constant and careful attention.

While we need to remain vigilant, I’d like to focus on the positives for my mid term message. Let’s start with the LHC. The machine’s performance this year has been fantastic. We achieved our target luminosity for the year in June, which augurs well for the summer conferences. I don’t expect any major discoveries just yet, but we are on target to have covered the whole range for Higgs from the LEP limit to 600 GeV by the end of next year. If the Higgs is not there, it doesn’t exist. Either way, it would be a great discovery for physics. 

For the physics programme beyond the LHC, it’s the same story. CNGS is delivering good beam to the experiments at Gran Sasso, and I’m looking forward to learning of more tau-neutrinos being detected there. There’s a steady stream of exciting results coming from the AD. The CLOUD experiment’s first paper is soon to be published. The n-ToF facility and ISOLDE continue to deliver, and we have been privileged to witness the successful launch and first data from AMS.

These successes are thanks in large part to the CERN infrastructure supporting our research, the electrical power supplied to cryogenics and, of course, the great performance of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG). The WLCG now routinely handles up to 200000 concurrent analysis jobs. Without it, our physics would emerge much slower.

Looking further ahead, the redesign of the LHC high-current interconnects is now complete, so we’re ready to prepare the machine for 7 TeV per beam running in the first long shutdown in 2013-14. CLIC is progressing steadily towards a conceptual design report to be published in 2012, while CTF3 routinely achieves accelerating gradients of 100MV/m.

In the world as a whole, CERN’s attractiveness continues to grow. To cite just a few figures, the number of users has increased by 60% since 2005 with most coming from non-Member States. We’ve had 107 VIP visits and 182 media visits since January, and the number of public visitors is approaching 40000.

Overall, things are going well. However, we have no reason for complacency. There is still a lot of ground to cover, but CERN has the necessary drive to succeed. For a more complete report, click here to see my talk to personnel on Monday 4 July.


Rolf Heuer