Postcard from Paris

Earlier this week I was in Paris to join particle physicists from around the world at the International Conference on High-Energy Physics, ICHEP 2010. This conference series began in 1950 as the ‘Rochester series’, named for the original venue in the US, and its meetings rapidly became the place to present the latest results and discoveries.

Particle physics has certainly come a long way since those early days. In 60 years, the meetings have witnessed the birth and growth of CERN, the development of the current Standard Model of particles and their interactions - and now the first results from a truly international project, the LHC.
I’d had the opportunity to be present at some of the previous meetings where important discoveries were announced, but this was the first time I had the privilege to attend as the Director-General of the laboratory that was the focus of much of the attention. It is clear from many of the people with whom I talked that the high quality of the data from the detectors, and the speed with which they have been analysed thanks to the performance of the Grid, are both greatly appreciated. In particular, the experiments were able to present results from data collected up to only a few days before the conference.

This excellent outcome for the LHC has provided a long-awaited boost to the particle physics community. Now we can look forward to continued improvement in the performance of the collider, with increased luminosity providing higher data rates. A forthcoming objective is to operate with “bunch trains”, in which more bunches than at present are grouped closely together. This will be yet another step on the path towards the further increase in luminosity by a factor of about 60, which we plan to achieve by the end of 2010 – and it will put the experiments in a strong position for presenting some exciting physics at the next conference in the ICHEP series, in 2012.

Rolf Heuer