detail in the section “The Need for Nimbleness” in Chapter 5, streamlining the sponsoring agencies’ procedures for initiating and managing projects, especially smaller-scale projects whose risks are more easily manageable and whose potential for discovery and/or applications is large, is essential for a program that can keep up with, and indeed lead, the global community.
Finding: The range of projects in nuclear physics is broad, and sophisticated new tools and protocols have been developed for successful management of the largest of them. At the other end of the scale, nimbleness is essential if the United States is to remain competitive and innovative on the rapidly expanding international nuclear physics scene.
Recommendation: The sponsoring agencies should develop streamlined and flexible procedures that are tailored for initiating and managing smaller scale nuclear science projects.
Without gluons, there would be no neutrons or protons and no atomic nuclei. Gluon properties in matter remain largely unexplored and mysterious. An electron ion collider facility would provide unprecedented capability for studies that are essential for understanding the fundamental structure of visible matter, including (1) precision imaging of quarks and gluons to determine the spin, flavor, and spatial structure of the nucleon and (2) definitive measurements of the gluon fields in nuclei in a regime in which they are expected to be both strong and universal.
Finding: An upgrade to an existing accelerator facility that enables the colliding of nuclei and electrons at forefront energies would be unique for studying new aspects of quantum chromodynamics. In particular, such an upgrade would yield new information on the role of gluons in protons and nuclei. An electron-ion collider is currently under scrutiny as a possible future facility.
Recommendation: Investment in accelerator and detector research and development for an electron-ion collider should continue. The science opportunities and the requirements for such a facility should be carefully evaluated in the next Nuclear Science Long Range Plan.