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ICHEP 2016: to b(ump) or not to b(ump)


Eckhard Elsen is Director for Research and Computing

Eckhard attends the 38th International Conference on High Energy Physics, ICHEP 2016, hosted this year by the US particle physics community

This week I’m in Chicago for the 38th International Conference on High Energy Physics, ICHEP 2016, hosted this year by the US particle physics community. While it became clear at the conference that the famous 750 GeV bump has flatlined, there’s been a wealth of physics from CERN and around the world. Everyone in their heart felt that the bump would turn out to be no more than a statistical fluctuation, while secretly hoping that it would be something new. Even the designer of the ICHEP 2016 logo cleverly hid a bump with a subtle question mark in the Chicago skyline – appropriately enough in Anish Kapoor’s mysterious ‘Cloud Gate’ sculpture.

That question mark has now been resolved. Kapoor’s sculpture returns to being just that, and the search for new physics goes on – albeit further constraint as theorists revealed in the 400+ papers in the wake of the bump discussion. The highlight from CERN was undoubtedly the spectacular performance of the LHC, which has already delivered five times more data in 2016 than it did in all of 2015. This has, by necessity, been accompanied by equally spectacular performance by the experiments and the World Wide LHC Computing Grid, WLCG, which is smashing all its previous records and putting a strain on resources. The four major LHC experiments presented new results ranging from new Higgs measurements to extremely rare decay processes and new measurements on Quark Gluon Plasma. Some highlights from CERN included the exploration of the di-lepton and di-boson spectra at high masses, CP-violation in baryonic B-decays and common understanding between experiments of the suppression of charm production and the emergence of jets from the quark-gluon plasma. In the city of Chicago the ambitious plans for neutrino physics featured highly; the planning of long-baseline experiments is making good progress in the US and Japan. Gravitational waves still topped the list of the most talked about physics, following LIGO’s discoveries announced earlier this year. The latter also was the topic of a much-acclaimed public lecture.

ICHEP is the most important gathering this year for our field, and it was good to see so many colleagues from all around the world in Chicago. The organisers made a particular effort in engaging young people in the scientific presentations. Every day saw some fifteen young scientists presenting their own results in exactly one minute on a single slide. They succeeded impressively, setting high standards in conciseness quality and dynamic presentations.