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An Assessment of U.S.-Based Electron-Ion Collider Science (2018)

Chapter: Appendix A Statement of Task

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Statement of Task." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. An Assessment of U.S.-Based Electron-Ion Collider Science. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25171.
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A

Statement of Task

The committee will assess the scientific justification for a U.S. domestic electron ion collider facility, taking into account current international plans and existing domestic facility infrastructure. In preparing its report, the committee will address the role that such a facility could play in the future of nuclear physics, considering the field broadly, but placing emphasis on its potential scientific impact on quantum chromodynamics.

In particular, the committee will address the following questions:

  • What is the merit and significance of the science that could be addressed by an electron ion collider facility and what is its importance in the overall context of research in nuclear physics and the physical sciences in general?
  • What are the capabilities of other facilities, existing and planned, domestic and abroad, to address the science opportunities afforded by an electron ion collider? What unique scientific role could be played by a domestic electron ion collider facility that is complementary to existing and planned facilities at home and elsewhere?
  • What are the benefits to U.S. leadership in nuclear physics if a domestic electron ion collider were constructed?
  • What are the benefits to other fields of science and to society of establishing such a facility in the United States?
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A Statement of Task." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. An Assessment of U.S.-Based Electron-Ion Collider Science. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25171.
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Page 127
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Understanding of protons and neutrons, or “nucleons”—the building blocks of atomic nuclei—has advanced dramatically, both theoretically and experimentally, in the past half century. A central goal of modern nuclear physics is to understand the structure of the proton and neutron directly from the dynamics of their quarks and gluons governed by the theory of their interactions, quantum chromodynamics (QCD), and how nuclear interactions between protons and neutrons emerge from these dynamics. With deeper understanding of the quark-gluon structure of matter, scientists are poised to reach a deeper picture of these building blocks, and atomic nuclei themselves, as collective many-body systems with new emergent behavior.

The development of a U.S. domestic electron-ion collider (EIC) facility has the potential to answer questions that are central to completing an understanding of atoms and integral to the agenda of nuclear physics today. This study assesses the merits and significance of the science that could be addressed by an EIC, and its importance to nuclear physics in particular and to the physical sciences in general. It evaluates the significance of the science that would be enabled by the construction of an EIC, its benefits to U.S. leadership in nuclear physics, and the benefits to other fields of science of a U.S.-based EIC.

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