I applaud Usman Ahmed for being alert to the very recent National Research Council report on support for elementary particle physics in the U.S. (U of C Site Vies for New Particle Accelerator, May 9, 2006). Unfortunately, in a brief phone interview, which I cut short because I was late for a seminar, Mr. Ahmed misunderstood a few of my points. The NRC EPP2010 panel determined that elementary particle physics is a field of great value, historically furthered by U.S. initiatives, and that the U.S. could well lose its prominence in the field owing to many years of shrinking funding.
Contrary to a statement in the article, I do not disagree with the NRC recommendations, namely that the U.S. make it a priority to host the next generation accelerator (ILC) needed by the field. I believe Mr. Ahmed misunderstood a comment I made about the urgency for the U.S. to increase its support for the ILC and become a lead player in the project…whether it is hosted here or not. Given the ability of this country to invest in large-scale science, and its historical place in the development of the science, I strongly believe the U.S. should take the lead in the truly international ILC project. Indeed, the original concept for the ILC was first developed in this country in the 1980s.
I also point out that Fermilab is not formally affiliated with the University and is therefore not a U of C site (but the proximity to U of C is certainly of great benefit to the University).
Professor of Physics