By Mei Bai
The 2012 RHIC/AGS Annual User Meeting began quietly on the BNL campus June 12 with two parallel workshops on Heavy Ion Physics and Spin Physics. The Annual User Meeting has been the platform for the users of the RHIC accelerator complex to discuss the achievements of RHIC operations during the last year, as well as ideas for hardware upgrades and plans for the future physics program. Two additional parallel workshops, on RHIC upgrades as well as eRHIC, took place on the second day. A variety of interesting ideas were presented, both for future detector upgrades as well as accelerator upgrades to accommodate the compelling physics goals, such as low energy heavy ion operation and very high luminosity polarized protons at RHIC.
This year’s RHIC operation has been a spectacular success. All luminosity goals for polarized protons as well as heavy ions were achieved or surpassed. The overall performance from both the RHIC accelerator complex and both experiments were reported during the plenary session on day 3. Elke Aschenauer from Physics and Vadim Ptitsyn from CAD also presented comprehensive overviews of the physics case for eRHIC, and of the accelerator design and current R&D status, respectively.
Many of the attendees at the 2012 annual RHIC/AGS Users’ Meeting
The highlight of the meeting was the distinguished lecture on “Nuclear Physics in the US” by Dr. Timothy Hallman, the Associate Director for Nuclear Physics in the Office of Science of DOE (link for his lecture). Dr. Hallman first overviewed the nuclear physics research program at the DOE nuclear physics facilities, from those that are already operational like RHIC, CEBAF and ATLAS, to those that are under construction, such as the JLab 12-GeV upgrade, or considered for new construction, such as FRIB at MSU. He also touched upon current budget challenges that the US nuclear physics community is facing. The message was clear that RHIC research has been very successful but that its continued success will depend on a clear vision of its future.
Dr. Joo of NSF and Dr. Sowinski of DOE also gave their perspectives on nuclear physics funding outlooks at their respective agencies. The annual meeting was concluded with an outlook of the nuclear physics program and plan at BNL from Dr. Steve Vigdor, the Associate Lab Director, and future plans for the RHIC accelerator complex, including e-RHIC, from Dr. W. Fischer, the head of the Accelerator Division at C-AD.
The thesis award of this year's User meeting went to John Koster from PHENIX and Leonard Eun from STAR for their outstanding work on measuring transverse spin asymmetry of polarized proton collisions, an important part of understanding the proton spin structure. Details of their theses can be found on the RHIC & AGS Users Center website.
Most of the talks can be found on the meeting’s web site.
About the author: Mei Bai is an accelerator physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and is the Chair of the Users Executive Committee until June, 2013.