Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.
A proposed new accelerator complex at Fermilab would open up the Intensity Frontier of particle physics.
By Leah Hesla
October 11, 2001
“Depending on your point of view, “Project X” is either an inspired choice—mysterious! intriguing!—for the name of a big science project, a ridiculous title—scary! confusing!—or a placeholder until a better name comes along.
The $1.8 billion complex would send a beam of protons down a linear accelerator, propel them to either 3 or 8 billion electron volts (GeV), and smash them into a target, creating a gusher of particles: Kaons. Muons. The most intense beam of high-energy neutrinos ever created. And, at the other end of the scale, intense beams of heavy, low-energy nuclei, useful for getting to the bottom of entirely different problems.
These distinctive particle types would be sorted and shipped to different detectors for experiments aimed at answering fundamental questions: How did matter come to dominate the universe? Do electrons and other leptons change into each other, the way the three types of neutrinos do? What the solutions to those questions have in common can be summed up in one word: Intensity.
“…the Intensity Frontier. This is where Project X would make its mark.
Intensity refers to the number of particles that accelerator physicists can cram into a beam. More particles mean more collisions with the atoms in a target. The more collisions that take place the more likely it is that an exotic event, incredibly rare but with crucial implications for physics discovery, will show its face.
‘If you want to find something very, very rare,’ says Fermilab physicist Bob Tschirhart, who has spent much of his physics career on the track of the rarest of particle events, ‘you have to take lots and lots of samples and cleverly avoid subtle fakes.'”