Preposterous Universe

Saturday, November 20, 2004
Oddone to direct Fermilab

After a long search, the new director of Fermilab will be Pier Oddone, currently deputy director of Lawrence Berkely Labs. Oddone is an experimentalist, and the originator of the idea of asymmetric B-factories to study CP violation; two such facilities have since been built at SLAC in California and at KEK in Japan.

According to the news reports, Oddone seems to be in favor of an aggressive push to keep Fermilab moving forward in particle physics:
Oddone, 60, takes the helm of the laboratory at a critical time in energy research. Although Fermi remains the top high-energy physics lab in the world, it is expected to be surpassed by a European facility in three years.

To ensure the lab's survival and staffing levels, Oddone said Fermi will need to market itself to either run the next big energy facility or create a niche market for new research using the lab's current neutrino experiments. Neutrinos are one of the least understood components of the universe. They are similar to electrons but lack an electric charge.

Even with current changes at the U.S. Department of Energy, Fermi will continue to get backing to move forward on either project, said Robin Staffin, director of the office of high energy physics and office of science at the DOE.

"Fermilab plays a major, very important role in the department's high-energy physics," he said. "We certainly expect that to continue."
That's good news, it's just what the field and Fermilab need.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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