Blogging ICHEP 2010

A collective forum about the 35th edition of
the International Conference on High Energy Physics (Paris, July 2010)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Expectations for ICHEP

3 days before the kick off of ICHEP'10 is the high time to share my hopes, fears, and expectations. Definitely, the conference is going to be a unique experience for me because it's my first time as press :-) But from the scientific point of view my emotions are mixed. Like most fellow theorists I'm rather skeptical about supersize conferences such as ICHEP. This sort of meetings used to play an important role as the venue to learn of new ideas and results in the field. Today, however, when information travels faster than light, when almost every relevant result is instantly available via arXiv, and when one can skype anyone on the globe with just one click, big conferences seem to be a relic of the 20th century. Personally I don't expect to learn of any new theoretical results in this conference, even if listening to first-hand presentations is always illuminating and may add to my understanding.

Fortunately for ICHEP things can be interesting thanks to experimentalists who generally have a completely different view of the conference. The working cycle in experimental physics often involves finalizing results for big conferences such as ICHEP, Lepton-Photon or Moriond, so as to get more exposure. This is perfectly understandable. After spending the entire year in soggy basements where the only light is the laptop screen experimentalists should excercise some decorum when the results of their work are presented to the world. This approach guarantees a decent number of brand new experimental results for this year's ICHEP.

What am I waiting for the most? This summer is very special because the first serious LHC results will be presented. Of course, none of these results could even vaguely be interesting for a wider public. With merely a couple hundreds inverse nanobarn acquired so far, and only a fraction of that analyzed, the LHC can only access bread-and-butter physics such as W,Z, or b-quark production. Still it is interesting to watch the baby growing, even if all it can say is ba-ba-ba. The new results will give us a feel of the LHC performance, and should soon provide some indirect benefits in the form of better simulation tools for more interesting processes.

And then there is the old Tevatron who does not want to pass away just yet. The most expected results that will be presented at ICHEP are related to Higgs physics. The National Enquirer's reports that Higgs has been discovered turned out to be slightly exaggerated, so instead we are going to see new limits on the Higgs mass and cross section. The other hot issue at the Tevatron right now is flavor physics and CP violation, following D0's claim that they found evidence for new physics in Bs meson decays. ICHEP will add at least one important result: the update of the D0 measurement of the CP violation in Bs to J/Psi Phi decays. The earlier D0 measurement was 2-sigmish away from the standard model, while the latest CDF update is completely consistent with the standard model. We will see soon whether we'll have more or less reason to believe in new physics in the Bs meson system. On top of that, the Tevatron will show interesting result from top physics and from a number of standard and non-standard new physics searches. Not that there is any hope of positive signals in the latter...

What else? There seem to be interesting sessions devoted to dark matter searches, although in these cases the crucial results will probably first be shown on more specialized conferences such as TeVPA or IDM. Neutrino physics has recently become a bit more interesting due to weird hints from miniBoone and Minos, and we'll get a lot of neutrino exposure during ICHEP. Maybe something else that I haven't thought of could surprise me? As long as there's coffee, there's hope.

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