The start of the harvest

The first major particle physics summer conference has just started this week in Grenoble. After the Quark-Matter conference, the Europhysics Conference on High-Energy Physics marks the start of a promising harvest for the LHC experiments.


For the first time, the collaborations will be presenting their latest results based on all luminosity taken until end of June, which will provide more precise measurements in many areas. Thanks to the excellent performance of the LHC, the experiments have already accumulated a substantial quantity of data allowing them to push back the known limits and refine measurements in many fields ranging from b physics to the search for the Higgs boson and for dark matter. At the time of writing, the LHC collaborations are about to present these new results in an energy range which has never previously been explored.

I have congratulated all the teams involved in getting the LHC into operation in record time with great efficiency. Today I would like to acknowledge the tremendous work of the experimental physicists who have succeeded in finalising analyses of recently collected data within an unprecedented short period of time. The collaborations have pulled out all the stops right up to the last minute in order to firm up results for presentation at this conference. This is a remarkable achievement, made possible also by the excellent performance of the Computing Grid.

The majority of the results that are being presented this week might not be regarded as spectacular by the general public. But for physicists, a decimal place in a precision measurement or pushing back limits on new physics represents a significant achievement. These tiny building blocks of knowledge also lead to the gradual accumulation ofnew scientific knowledge. This long and painstaking work is absolutely essential. It is important that we take account of this difference in perception and address it.

Furthermore, while these results are already very interesting, they provide sound bases for the discoveries to come. The data analysed so far corresponds to one tenth of the total quantity of data that we hope to collect by the end of 2012. Our field of physics, which focuses on very rare phenomena, requires high statistics. So we'll have to wait a bit longer to obtain definitive answers on, for instance, the Higgs boson, or to identify and understand signals pointing to physics beyond the Standard Model such as supersymmetry. I am confident that spectacular discoveries will emerge. For the time being, the physicists are  patiently continuing to collect and sort data, and to bring in the harvest.


Rolf Heuer