The future of neutrino physics

On 1-3 October, CERN held the first workshop to discuss the strategy that Europe should follow in the field of neutrino physics. Many members of the neutrino physics community from all over the world participated in the workshop, demonstrating the vitality and interest of this research field.

The European Strategy for Future Neutrino Physics workshop is the second of a series of workshops organized by CERN to coordinate efforts and define strategies for the future of physics research in Europe. The first workshop was organized in May; it outlined the best projects that have excellent scientific goals and for which CERN’s facilities are unique. Currently, these projects are being discussed within the community and in the CERN scientific committees.

The same bottom-up approach was taken for the organisation of this second workshop that focussed on neutrino physics. More than 250 people participated and 44 posters were presented in a separate session. Unlike in the first workshop, the focus was not on specific proposal presentations. Rather, after a short overview of the current situation, the discussion focussed on the possible roads that this field may take in future: suitable beams, detector techniques, and the basic strategy for selecting the future proposals.

"It is clear that in about 2-3 years from now, the community will have to make decisions about what direction to take for the future of neutrino physics", explains Ewa Rondio, one of the organisers of the workshop. "The current situation is too diversified and one of the goals of the workshop was to strengthen the process of establishing a roadmap for a coherent approach to the different issues involved: from how to reach the point of decision, to what should be done to best prepare for it in terms of testing the beams and evaluate their suitability, and decide on the most promising R&D activities."

Scientists from Japan and the US also took part in the workshop. "The future strategy of Europe in neutrino physics cannot be established without taking into account what is decided in other parts of the world. This has to be a world-wide coordinated effort", says Ewa.

Clearly, results of these initial discussions will become visible only after the present neutrino experiments and the whole physics landscape (from detector techniques to cosmology to new results coming from the LHC) have shown which is the best way to go. However, "the first very positive outcome of the workshop is that now people know more about other people’s projects and it may help in networking and preparing common proposals for R&D projects", anticipates Ewa. All the contributions (talks and posters) and the discussions that took place at the workshop will be included, early next year, in a yellow report.

CERN is engaged in this path to stimulate early discussions within the different communities existing in the physics landscape. The next workshops will focus on "Physics and Health in Europe" (2-4 February 2010) and astroparticle physics and cosmology (dates to be fixed).

CERN Bulletin