The UK Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) has outlined its latest research goals in its Strategic Plan for 2003-2008. Among its aims are to increase UK industrial competitiveness and gain leadership roles in the construction of the next generation of major particle-physics facilities.
Top of the agenda for particle physics is to fulfil the UK’s commitment to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, and its contribution to the ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb experiments. Involvement with the construction of these detectors is essential to maintain PPARC’s role in funding research that will improve scientists’ understanding of the precise structure of matter, our universe and the forces that bind it together. In recognizing that the future of experimental particle physics lies in global accelerator facilities, PPARC also plans to build up the UK’s capacity in accelerator R&D, enabling UK scientists to play a leading role in their design. As part of the process, PPARC intends to create centres of expertise in particle physics and invite UK universities to host them.
Following the experimental confirmation of neutrino masses and the subsequent need for a neutrino factory to study neutrino properties, PPARC also intends to increase investment in neutrino R&D. The council hopes that such an effort will create sufficient expertise in the UK to host a neutrino factory facility. Existing UK infrastructure would allow a neutrino factory to be in place by the end of the next decade.
PPARC is also concerned with improving the computing infrastructure required to handle LHC data. In a bid to maintain the UK’s competitive edge in high-performance computing, £16 million (€22 million) was announced in December to create a massive computing grid. Known as GridPP2, it will be equivalent to Japan’s Earth simulator computer – the second largest in the world – and will eventually form part of the larger European Grid. GridPP2 will thus enhance the overall data-processing capability when the LHC comes online in 2007.
• The five-year strategic plan is available at www.pparc.ac.uk/Pbl/pubs.asp.