From Fermilab today: “Physics in a Nutshell – Why high intensity?”
Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.
Friday, June 15, 2012
“One of the phrases you often hear around the Fermilab cafeteria is ‘the Intensity Frontier.’ Did you ever wonder what that means and why the laboratory is heading in that direction?
The Intensity Frontier allows physicists to pursue the rarest phenomena accessible by modern techniques.
Essentially, having high intensity means that the beams are very concentrated. You may have also heard scientists use the term high luminosity. The traditional meaning of the word luminous is ‘very bright,’ and in particle physics, both luminosity and intensity refer to the brightness of particle beams. You can achieve bright beams by packing more particles in the beams or by focusing the beams to a tiny area, thus increasing the number of particle collisions you have per second.
The reason you want to increase the number of collisions is that not all collisions are equally likely. Some are very common, while others are incredibly rare. The common ones are already well understood. It’s by examining the rare ones that we can conduct fruitful searches for new physical phenomena.
Yet another reason that high-luminosity beams are valuable comes from the principles of quantum mechanics. It is a fundamental tenet of classical physics that energy is always conserved. However, in the quantum realm, energy conservation can be violated, if the violation occurs for a short enough time. This phenomenon is embodied in the form of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
Because of this, phenomena that ordinarily occur only at energies far above those the LHC can achieve will occasionally occur at lower energies. This is very rare, but looking for rare things is what high-luminosity beams are all about.
With Fermilab’s decision to pursue the Intensity Frontier, the discovery potential is very bright.”
See the full article here.