New LHCb Management readies for run 2 challenges

As of 1 July, LHCb, one of the four biggest experiments at the LHC, will have a new Management. Ahead are the huge challenges of run 2 and the following long technical shutdown during which LHCb will undergo a major upgrade. In the meantime, the discovery of new physics could be a dream within reach…


New LHCb Spokesperson, Guy Wilkinson.

“We have to make sure that the detector wakes up after its long hibernation and goes back to data taking in the most efficient way and that we are able to process all these data to produce high-quality physics results,” says Guy Wilkinson, new Spokesperson of the LHCb collaboration. Although this already sounds like a considerable “to-do” list for the coming months, it’s just the beginning of a much longer and ambitious plan. “The previous management has done an excellent job in analysing the data we took during run 1. They also put on a very sound footing the LHCb upgrade, which is a major project set to begin operation after the second long shut-down.”

During the 2018-2019 shutdown, the LHCb collaboration plans to change the electronics throughout all of the subdetectors, in addition to installing a new vertex detector, RICH detector, tracker and trigger system. “We will operate at higher luminosity and will readout our detector at a higher rate,” explains Wilkinson. “In this way, we will be able to benefit more from the huge rate of beauty and charm production at the LHC.”

The ambitious upgrade programme will be undertaken by the whole collaboration, including several new institutes that have joined in recent years. “The scientific community interested in flavour physics saw what a good job we did during run 1 and they want to come onboard and be part of this run 2 exploitation,” comments Wilkinson. “They have been particularly excited by the challenge of building the new subdetectors that we will need for the experiment's upgrade.”

“The coming years are going to be particularly difficult because we’ll be taking data, analysing data and starting to construct the new detectors. The real challenge for the new management will be juggling these balls simultaneously. Often this will involve the same people so people will be very busy,” adds Monica Pepe-Altarelli, new Deputy Spokesperson of the LHCb collaboration.

There are indeed very exciting physics possibilities for LHCb during both run 2 and after the planned upgrade. Some of their results from run 1 hint at slight tensions with the Standard Model. These might go away but the only way to progress is to keep studying these phenomena with the new data. “Our dream would be to make sufficiently precise measurements so that eventually something that cannot be explained in the Standard Model does indeed show up unambiguously,” says Wilkinson. “So far, there has been no direct observation of any new particles associated with physics beyond the Standard Model. However, the precise studies of relatively low energy phenomena that we perform are in principle very sensitive to the contribution of such new particles, for example those predicted by supersymmetry. Our hope is to find incontrovertible evidence of their existence in our data.”

Although maintaining the excellent performance of the detector, preparing for the upgrade and keeping one of the world’s highest scientific publication rates per member are Guy Wilkinson’s objectives, his priorities are clear. “We want to make sure that LHCb remains a happy collaboration and that all people involved feel that they have equal stake, equal responsibility and can take equal pride from the achievements of the experiment. We are starting from a very good place but the management will certainly be responsive, open and encouraging particularly young people and women physicists who might want to come and speak to us and tell us their ideas and hopes for the experiment. My wish is that we will be perceived as an open management and I do hope that time will confirm this,” he concludes.

by Antonella Del Rosso